AAPI Reading List: Patron Favorites

Last month I invited patrons to recommend their favorites titles by and about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Patron favorites span many decades and represent a global diaspora of voices. We can borrow any title not in our collection through interlibrary loan.

The Bonesetter’s Daughter
by Amy Tan

In a remote mountain village where ghosts and tradition rule, LuLing grows up in the care of her mute Precious Auntie as the family endures a curse laid upon a relative known as the bonesetter. When headstrong LuLing rejects the marriage proposal of the coffinmaker, a shocking series of events are set in motion–all of which lead back to Ruth and LuLing in modern San Francisco. The truth that Ruth learns from her mother’s past will forever change her perception of family, love, and forgiveness.

The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem–ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.

She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.

And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities–like the Housekeeper’s shoe size–and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See

Set on the Korean island of Jeju, The Island of Sea Women follows Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, as they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.

The Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan

Four mothers, four daughters, four families, whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s telling the stories. In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, meet weekly to play mahjong and tell stories of what they left behind in China. United in loss and new hope for their daughters’ futures, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Their daughters, who have never heard these stories, think their mothers’ advice is irrelevant to their modern American lives – until their own inner crises reveal how much they’ve unknowingly inherited of their mothers’ pasts.

Pachinko
by Min Jin Lee

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

Till Morning Comes
by Han Suyin

Alone in exotic Chungking, beautiful foreign correspondent Stephanie Ryder is warned to keep silent about the atrocities she witnesses in the city’s teeming slums. Defying a brutal Kuomintang officer, she is swept to an electrifying first meeting with Dr. Jen Yong, a handsome, dedicated and compassionate Chinese surgeon. For Yong, a sexual liaison with an American woman could mean a death sentence. For Stephanie, an affair with an Asian man would cause an irreparable breach with her Texas millionaire father. But just when dangers to threatens to separate them forever, their passion bursts into flame, and carries them on a fabulous romantic journey from the stormy depths of fear and desire, to the moving affirmation that enduring love is truly a many-splendored thing.

😷Mask Up, Pop In, Check Out

The Stonington Public Library will continue to require that patrons mask up when visiting the library. Masks are available at the front desk, if you forget yours at home. We consider the health of our community to be our top priority. We reopened to visitors nearly three months ago, and over that time, we have safely welcomed patrons inside to browse our collection and borrow materials without incident. We attribute that success to everyone’s cooperation following safety guidelines. We remain committed to protecting your health, and we appreciate your continued support caring for the community.

We very much look forward to seeing everyone’s smile again, but until then, rest assured that we can see it in your eyes.

Wings, Waves & Woods: New Books @ the Stonington Public Library

Wings, Waves & Woods Festival is back! Island Heritage Trust has planned a full schedule of educational webinars and Zoom meetings, prerecorded experiences, and limited in-person walks and talks (registration required). The 2021 schedule and information on how to register are available online.

To celebrate the festival’s return, the Stonington Public Library compiled a list of new titles around the theme Wings, Waves & Woods for our readers to explore. Join Rich MacDonald on his yearlong quest to chase the birds of Hancock County. Or take a deep dive into the all things lobsters in the latest children’s book from Peter and Connie Roop. You can find titles for everyone from the budding naturalist to the seasoned fisherman in our newest non-fiction and picture book acquisitions. Grab a book to read outside before the winged pests of summer return.

Non-Fiction

Birds of Maine
by Peter D. Vickery

The first comprehensive overview of Maine’s incredibly rich birdlife in more than seven decades, Birds of Maine is a detailed account of all 464 species recorded in the Pine Tree State. It is also a thoroughly researched, accessible portrait of a region undergoing rapid changes, with southern birds pushing north, northern birds expanding south, and once-absent natives like Atlantic Puffins brought back by innovative conservation techniques pioneered in Maine.

The Book of Eels
by Patrik Svensson

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the “eel question”: Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don’t understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.

Fathoms: The World in the Whale 
by Rebecca Giggs

Fathoms: The World in the Whale blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore: How do whales experience ecological change? Will our connection to these storied animals be transformed by technology? What can observing whales teach us about the complexity, splendour, and fragility of life? In Fathoms, we learn about whales so rare they have never been named, whale songs that sweep across hemispheres in annual waves of popularity, and whales that have modified the chemical composition of our planet’s atmosphere. We travel to Japan to board the ships that hunt whales and delve into the deepest seas to discover the plastic pollution now pervading the whale’s undersea environment.

Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie
by Charlie Gilmour

One spring day, a baby magpie falls out of its nest and into Charlie Gilmour’s hands. Magpies, he soon discovers, are as clever and mischievous as monkeys. They are also notorious thieves, and this one quickly steals his heart. By the time the creature develops shiny black feathers that inspire the name Benzene, Charlie and the bird have forged an unbreakable bond.

Finding the Mother Tree 
by Suzanne Simard

In her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths–that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about the future; elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies–and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

The Language of Butterflies 
by Wendy Williams

Butterflies are one of the world’s most beloved insects. From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibitions, they are one of the few insects we’ve encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this groundbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these “flying flowers”—creatures far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for.

Little Big Year: Chasing Acadia’s Birds 
by Richard Wayne MacDonald

Join field biologist Richard MacDonald on a year-long journey to document the birds of Acadia National Park and Downeast Maine. As you read this book, you’ll feel as though you are sitting in Richard’s living room as he shares his adventures in an easy-to-read story-telling style. With each bird, he relates finding the species while weaving in fun facts and stories from his 40+ years of study, birding, and travel from Newfoundland to Antarctica. (Register for our upcoming event with Rich)

Seaweed Chronicles: A World at Water’s Edge 
by Susan Hand Shetterly

In Seaweed Chronicles, Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made. Ideal for readers of such books as The Hidden Life of Trees and How to Read WaterSeaweed Chronicles is a deeply informative look at a little understood and too often unappreciated part of our habitat.

Why We Swim
by Bonnie Tsui

We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now, in the twenty-first century, swimming is one of the most popular activities in the world. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what about water—despite its dangers—seduces us and why we come back to it again and again.

A World on the Wing
by Scott Weidensaul

Bird migration entails almost unfathomable endurance, like a sparrow-sized sandpiper that will fly nonstop from Canada to Venezuela—the equivalent of running 126 consecutive marathons without food, water, or rest—avoiding dehydration by “drinking” moisture from its own muscles and organs, while orienting itself using the earth’s magnetic field through a form of quantum entanglement that made Einstein queasy. Crossing the Pacific Ocean in nine days of nonstop flight, as some birds do, leaves little time for sleep, but migrants can put half their brains to sleep for a few seconds at a time, alternating sides—and their reaction time actually improves. Drawing on his own extensive fieldwork, in A World on the Wing Weidensaul unveils with dazzling prose the miracle of nature taking place over our heads.

Picture Books

Hey, Water!
by Antoinette Portis

Join a young girl as she explores her surroundings and sees that water is everywhere. But water doesn’t always look the same, it doesn’t always feel the same, and it shows up in lots of different shapes. Water can be a lake, it can be steam, it can be a tear, or it can even be a snowman.

Maine Lobster ABC
by Peter & Connie Roop and illustrated by Jeremiah Savage

Learn all about lobsters and lobstermen, their lore and their gear, in this beautifully illustrated book for both children and adults. Peter and Connie Roop are the authors of more than 100 children’s books, including Maine Lighthouse ABC. They put a lot of time into their research for each book, thus providing good information for all ages, along with very silly lobster jokes and a section of “fun facts” about lobsters. Jeremiah Savage illustrated both ABCs. His bold illustrations with vibrant colors and a semi-realistic, cartoony style focus on the diversity and uniqueness of the lobster industry in Maine.

Moth: An Evolution Story 
by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Powerful and visually spectacular, Moth is the remarkable evolution story that captures the struggle of animal survival against the background of an evolving human world in a unique and atmospheric introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.

The Old Boat
by Jarret Pumphrey & Jerome Pumphrey

Off a small island, a boy and his grandmother set sail in their beloved fishing boat. They ride the waves, dreaming, catching fish, and seeing the wonders of the ocean. But soon the boy is sailing the boat himself, venturing further from shore as the waters grow dirty and polluted. When a storm washes him ashore and wrecks the old boat, he sees home in a new light. He decides to turn the tides of his fortune, cleaning the island’s waters and creating a new life with a family to call his own. With an eye-catching design and masterfully detailed illustrations, The Old Boat is an exquisite story about caring for the places we call home.

The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor 
by Amy Alznauer & Ping Zhu

Right from the start young Flannery O’Connor took a shine to chickens. They pecked around her backyard, filled her sketch book, and starred in her stories. Eventually, her early occupation blossomed into a full-blown quest to find the strangest, most unusual bird. At the same time she honed her craft as a writer, observing the true strangeness of life itself.

The Tide
by Clare Helen Welsh and illustrated by Ashley Lindsay

A young girl loves her grandpa so much! When they spend the day at the beach, she holds his hand as they go for a walk, and they build sand castles together. But sometimes, its difficult, because Grandpa has become forgetful. Grandpa’s memories are like the tide, Mommy explains. Sometimes, they’re near and full of life. Other times, they’re distant and quiet. The Tide is a story about families, laughter, and how we can help a loved one with dementia live well.

Whale in a Fishbowl
by Troy Howell & Richard Jones

Wednesday is a whale who lives in a fishbowl smack dab in the middle of a city–it’s the only home she’s ever known. Cars whizz around her and people hurry past; even the sun and moon circle above. But if she leaps high enough out of her bowl, Wednesday can see it: a calm bit of blue off in the distance. When a girl in a paisley dress tells Wednesday “You belong in the sea,” the whale starts to wonder, what is the sea? Readers will cheer–and get all choked up– when, one day, Wednesday leaps higher than ever before and sets in motion a breathtaking chain of events that will carry her to her rightful home. Touching, and ultimately uplifting, here is a story about a lonely creature longing to be free–and longing to find someone just like her.

Woodland Dreams
by Karen Jameson and illustrated by Marc Boutavant

In rhyming text, a little girl and her dog wander through the woods, saying goodnight to all her favorite wild animals before finally arriving at her own cabin for a good night’s sleep.

 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading Lists for Youth

Explore the diversity of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage in books for youth. From visual representation in picture books and graphic novels to fictionalized historical accounts in juvenile and young adult novels, we have books for all readers. When reading about cultures different from our own, we often learn new things about ourselves and sometimes even discover a new interest that last a lifetime.

Children’s Reading List

A Big Mooncake for Little Star
by Grace LinLittle Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble?

In this stunning picture book that shines as bright as the stars in the sky, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.

A Different Pond
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi BuiAs a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father’s long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao’s father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
Dumpling Soup
by Jama Kim Rattigan and illustrated by Lillian Hsu-FlandersMarisa gets to help make dumplings this year to celebrate the New Year. But she worries if anyone will eat her funny-looking dumplings. Set in the Hawaiian islands, this story celebrates the joyful mix of food, customs, and languages from many cultures.
Every Night Is Pizza Night
by J. Kenji López-Alt and illustrated by Gianna RuggieroPipo thinks that pizza is the best. No, Pipo knows that pizza is the best. It is scientific fact. But when she sets out on a neighborhood-spanning quest to prove it, she discovers that “best” might not mean what she thought it meant.

Join Pipo as she cooks new foods with her friends Eugene, Farah, Dakota, and Ronnie and Donnie. Each eating experiment delights and stuns her taste buds. Is a family recipe for bibimbap better than pizza? What about a Moroccan tagine that reminds you of home? Or is the best food in the world the kind of food you share with the people you love?

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
by Natasha Yim and illustrated by Grace ZongIn this Chinese American retelling of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” a careless Goldy Luck wreaks havoc on the home of a family of panda bears. She eats up the littlest panda’s rice porridge, breaks his rocking chair, and rumples all the blankets on his futon. When Goldy takes responsibility for her actions, she makes a new friend (and a whole plate of turnip cakes!) just in time for Chinese New Year.
Grandfather’s Journey
by Allen SayThrough compelling reminiscences of his grandfather’s life in America and Japan, Allen Say delivers a poignant account of his family’s unique cross-cultural experience. He warmly conveys his own love for his two countries and described the strong and constant desire to be in both places at once: When in one country, he invariably misses the other. His grandfather, he tells us, would understand.
Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
by Grace LinLing and Ting are two adorable identical twins, and they stick together, whether they are making dumplings, getting their hair cut, or practicing magic tricks. But looks are deceiving–people can be very different, even if they look exactly the same.
Love, Sophia on the Moon
by Anica Mrose Rissi and illustrated by Mika SongLife on earth isn’t always fair, so Sophia runs off to the moon, where there are no bedtimes, no time-outs, and no Mom.

But as Sophia and her mom send letters to each other, Mom has a clever comeback for all of Sophia’s angry notes. Home starts to sound not-quite-so-bad, especially when Mom reports that someone from the moon has moved in to Sophia’s old room, they’re having spaghetti for dinner, and they’re reading Sophia’s favorite story at bedtime.

The Most Beautiful Thing
by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Khoa LeDrawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States. When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother–a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth–who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.
My Footprints 
by Bao Phi and illustrated by Basia TranEvery child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels “double different.” She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully’s taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage – just like Thuy.
Sugar in Milk
by Thrity Umrigar and illustrated by Khoa LeWhen I first came to this country, I felt so alone. A young immigrant girl joins her aunt and uncle in a new country that is unfamiliar to her. She struggles with loneliness, with a fierce longing for the culture and familiarity of home, until one day, her aunt takes her on a walk. As the duo strolls through their city park, the girl’s aunt begins to tell her an old myth, and a story within the story begins.

Juvenile Reading List

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
by Lenore LookHere are some thing you should know about Alvin Ho:

1. He is afraid of everything. Trains, bridges, substitute teachers, girls, school. Everything.

2. He is from Concord, Massachusetts, which is hard to spell.

3. He loves Aquaman, Wonder Woman, all the superheroes of the the world. In fact, he is a superhero himself–Firecracker Man!

4. He is trying very hard to be a gentleman, like his dad, but there are a lot of rules and they are hard to remember.

5. He can talk at home and on the school bus, but never, ever at school. It is just too scar. (See #1.)

And there’s a lot more to learn about this amazing kid, so meet Alvin Ho…

Dragon Pearl
by Yoon Ha LeeThirteen-year-old Min c omes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.

Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

Heart of a Samurai
by Margi PreusIn 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852
by Lawrence YepIn 1852, during the height of the California Gold Rush, ten-year-old Wong Ming-Chung makes the dangerous trip to America to join his uncle on his hunt for a fortune. The true treasure for Ming-Chung, though, is America itself. In the midst of the lawless, often hostile environment, he is able to forge an international community of friends.
Kira-Kira
by Cynthia Kadohatakira-kira (kee ra kee ra): glittering; shining

Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister, Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason and so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop on the street to stare, and it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow, but when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering — kira-kira — in the future.

Measuring Up 
by Lily LaMotte and art by Ann XuTwelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.

Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food.

On the Horizon
by Lois LowryLois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.  Composed of poems about individual sailors who lost their lives on the Arizona and about the citizens of Hiroshima who experienced unfathomable horror.

Prairie Lotus
by Linda Sue ParkPrairie Lotus is a book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Hanna, a half-Asian girl in a small town in America’s heartland, lives in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, and the townspeople’s prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.
Stargazing
by Jen WangWhen Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.

But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?

Under the Blood-Red Sun 
by Graham SalisburyTomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats.

But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi’s father and grandfather are arrested. It’s a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn’t change: the loyalty of Tomi’s buddies, the Rats.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
by Grace LinIn the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.

 

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading List for Adults

One month is way too short to fully explore the diverse history and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. You could devote years of study to understanding a heritage as wide as the Pacific and as large as Asia. Make a commitment to read one book in May to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. All recommended titles are in the Stonington Public Library collection. Lists for younger readers will follow soon.

Don’t see your favorite book about Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on our list? Email us with your choice, even if it’s not in our collection, and we’ll share a composite list of patron recommendations later this month.

Chemistry by Weike Wang

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama

Daniel Abe, a young doctor in Chicago, is finally coming back to Hawai’i. He has his own reason for returning to his childhood home, but it is not to revisit the past, unlike his Uncle Koji. Koji lives with the memories of Daniel’s mother, Mariko, the love of his life, and the scars of a life hard-lived. He can’t wait to see Daniel, who he’s always thought of as a son, but he knows the time has come to tell him the truth about his mother, and his father. But Daniel’s arrival coincides with the awakening of the Mauna Loa volcano, and its dangerous path toward their village stirs both new and long ago passions in their community.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee

If you think McDonald’s is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese), Jennifer 8 Lee, traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food. In a compelling blend of sociology and history, Jenny Lee exposes the indentured servitude Chinese restaurants expect from illegal immigrant chefs, investigates the relationship between Jews and Chinese food, and weaves a personal narrative about her own relationship with Chinese food. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles speaks to the immigrant experience as a whole, and the way it has shaped our country.

The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

The Fortunes recasts American history through the lives of Chinese Americans and reimagines the multigenerational novel through the fractures of immigrant family experience.

Inhabiting four lives—a railroad baron’s valet who unwittingly ignites an explosion in Chinese labor, Hollywood’s first Chinese movie star, a hate-crime victim whose death mobilizes Asian Americans, and a biracial writer visiting China for an adoption—this novel captures and capsizes over a century of our history, showing that even as family bonds are denied and broken, a community can survive—as much through love as blood.

Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar

A deeply personal work about hope and identity in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of belonging and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque adventure — at its heart, it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and our ideals have been sacrificed to the gods of finance, where a TV personality is president and immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds of 9/11 wreak havoc around the world.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

In a crumbling, isolated house at the foot of Mount Kanchenjunga in the Himalayas lives an embittered judge who wants only to retire in peace, when his orphaned granddaughter, Sai, arrives on his doorstep. The judge’s cook watches over her distractedly, for his thoughts are often on his son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one gritty New York restaurant to another. Kiran Desai’s brilliant novel, published to huge acclaim, is a story of joy and despair. Her characters face numerous choices that majestically illuminate the consequences of colonialism as it collides with the modern world.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: he’s merely Generic Asian Man. Every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here too. . . but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the highest aspiration he can imagine for a Chinatown denizen. Or is it?

After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family, and what that means for him, in today’s America.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee

In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

The Resisters by Gish Jen

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet–the new face of government–is “Aunt Nettie”: a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair “Netted” still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on the water if they’re not.

An astonishing story of an America that seems only too possible, and of a family struggling to maintain its humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value–even their very existence.

Roughhouse Friday by Jaed Coffin

Coffin washed up in Alaska after a forty-day solo kayaking journey. Born to an American father and a Thai mother who had met during the Vietnam War, Coffin never felt particularly comfortable growing up in his rural Vermont town. Following his parents’ prickly divorce and a childhood spent drifting between his father’s new white family and his mother’s Thai roots, Coffin didn’t know who he was, much less what path his life should follow. His father’s notions about what it meant to be a man—formed by King Arthur legends and calcified in the military—did nothing to help. After college, he took to the road, working odd jobs and sleeping in his car before heading north.

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Alisak, Prany, and Noi—three orphans united by devastating loss—must do what is necessary to survive the perilous landscape of 1960s Laos. When they take shelter in a bombed out field hospital, they meet Vang, a doctor dedicated to helping the wounded at all costs. Soon the teens are serving as motorcycle couriers, delicately navigating their bikes across the fields filled with unexploded bombs, beneath the indiscriminate barrage from the sky.

In a world where the landscape and the roads have turned into an ocean of bombs, we follow their grueling days of rescuing civilians and searching for medical supplies, until Vang secures their evacuation on the last helicopters leaving the country. It’s a move with irrevocable consequences—and sets them on disparate and treacherous paths across the world.

Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The MetamorphosisThe Scarlet LetterThe Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

These eight stories by beloved and bestselling author Jhumpa Lahiri take us from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand, as they explore the secrets at the heart of family life. Here they enter the worlds of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers. Rich with the signature gifts that have established Jhumpa Lahiri as one of our most essential writers, Unaccustomed Earth exquisitely renders the most intricate workings of the heart and mind.

The Woman Warrior / China Men by Maxine Hong Kingston

The Woman Warrior is Kingston’s disturbing and fiercely beautiful account of growing up Chinese-American in California. The young Kingston lives in two worlds: the America to which her parents have emigrated, a place inhabited by white “ghosts,” and the China of her mother’s “talk stories,” a place haunted by the ghosts of the past. Kingston learns to fill in the mystifying spaces in her mother’s stories with stories of her own, engaging her family’s past and her own present with anger, imagination, and dazzling passion.

China Men is Kingston’s unforgettable imaginative journey into the hearts and minds of generations of Chinese men in America, from those who worked on the transcontinental railroad in the 1840s to those who fought in Vietnam. Mixing vivid fables and legends, personal stories from her own family, and details of the historical hardships faced by Chinese immigrants in different times and places, Kingston illuminates their long, arduous search for the Gold Mountain.

 

New Monthly Program: Saturday Solve

Photo by Chip Griffin

Join Chris on the first Saturday of every month, starting on April 3, to solve word puzzles together. He’ll focus on crosswords but will also branch out into other formats. Everyone will work together for an hour to solve puzzles. Of course. But we’ll also take a deeper look at the inner workings from grid layout to cluing standards. Give your wordplay muscle a serious workout.

Register on our Events page, or click here. The first Saturday Solve is on April 3 from 11am-12pm. You only need to register once to receive the Zoom invitation for April and all future months.

 

Get a Clue: Word Puzzles for All Ages

The next time you stop by the library, ask our team for a word puzzle. We can hook you up with a puzzle that is just right for your age and solving level. The library doesn’t charge for printing, so all you need to provide is the pencil.

The crossword is by far the most common. Yet even crosswords come in different types and sizes. Most daily puzzles are 15×15 with an average of 75 words. Sunday puzzles increase to 21×21 and approximately 140 words, and the New York Times publishes a jumbo-sized crossword (~50×50) in its annual “Puzzlemania” featuring hundreds of words. For the faint of heart, you can also find minis and midis ranging from 5×5 to 10×10.

There’s a wide world of word puzzles beyond crosswords that range from mindless to mind-numbing. We’d be happy to help you explore. So whether you have the whole afternoon or a few short minutes, there’s a puzzle for you. Solve at your own pace, and seek as little or as much assistance as you like. There are no word puzzle referees, so you make your own rules. The trick is to have fun. Heck, maybe you’ll even learn something along the way.

For kids ages 8 and up, the library offers a wide variety of puzzles from Puzzlesnacks in print only. For adults, you can access free puzzles online, on your smartphone, or in print at the library:

  1. The Atlantic – weekday minis/midis: online
  2. Crosswords with Friends – daily 13×13: app
  3. The Daily Beast – daily 10×10: online
  4. Los Angeles Times – daily 15×15 & daily 5×5: online | mini
  5. New York Magazine – weekly Sunday puzzle: online
  6. Universal – daily 15×15: online
  7. USA Today – daily 15×15: online | app
  8. Vox – daily 9×9: online
  9. Wall Street Journal – daily 15×15: online
  10. Washington Post – weekly Sunday puzzle: online

We’re Reopening

The Stonington Public Library will reopen to visitors starting tomorrow, Thursday, February 25. All visitors are required to wear a mask and to practice social distancing. Our team will limit the number of people inside the library at any given time, and we ask that patrons manage their time to keep their visits short. We will continue to offer curbside pickup and delivery as requested.

Anyone visiting or returning from out of state must comply with the state of Maine requirements for testing and quarantine before visiting the library. Visit the Keep Maine Healthy website for full guidelines.

Mad About Books

Not mad about March Madness? Tune into the Tournament of Books at the Morning News, instead. Every March the Morning News assembles an A-team of judges to read, review, and decide on the year’s best novel. A competition, yes. But really an excuse to talk about great novels.

The 2021 tournaments kicks off on March 8 and features head-to-head battles each weekday decided by one of the judges. When only two titles remain, all judges return for the championship round, and the novel with the most votes emerges victorious. The winner takes home the Rooster. (Apparently, no winner has accepted the offer of an actual live rooster.)

Get this year’s bracket and more about this year’s novels and judges. You can also read more about how the tournament works.

Request any tournament novel at librarian@stoningtonlibrary.org or 367-5926. We have several titles on our shelves and can obtain other by inter-library loan.

Library Book Club: 12 Maine authors in 12 months!

Maine turned 200 last year. The pandemic overshadowed any celebrations, and her birthday passed unheralded. In six more weeks, Maine officially turns 201, and in recognition of the milestone, the Stonington Public Library plans a yearlong Maine-themed book club to mark the state’s 201st birthday. Reading 12 Maine authors in 12 months. We’re calling it Maine 201.

Starting in February and running through January 2022, the reading list alternates between fiction and non-fiction. Selected authors include native Mainers and writers who later put down roots in the state. Collectively, they represent many different walks of life, and in their 12 distinct voices, they write about everything from seaweed and autism to misfits and hope. Explore the full reading list below with titles for diverse ages, interests, and backgrounds.

Join book club discussions—and contribute!—on the fourth Monday of every month from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Meetings held on Zoom until further notice. To request a library copy of any title, email librarian@stoningtonlibrary.org at least 3 weeks in advance. You can register now for February and March on our events page.

ALL READERS WELCOME!

February 22 (register)
Like the Willow Tree by Lois Lowry

Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers’ unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know.

March 22 (register)
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

April 26
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

“The story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don’t they teach you anything at school?”

So says 104-year-old Ona to the 11-year-old boy who’s been sent to help her out every Saturday morning. “As he refills the bird feeders and tidies the garden shed, Ona tells him about her long life, from first love to second chances. Soon she’s confessing secrets she has kept hidden for decades.

One Saturday, the boy doesn’t show up. Ona starts to think he’s not so special after all, but then his father arrives on her doorstep, determined to finish his son’s good deed. The boy’s mother is not so far behind. Ona is set to discover that the world can surprise us at any age, and that sometimes sharing a loss is the only way to find ourselves again.

May 24
My World Is an Island by Elisabeth Ogilvie

A memoir of the well-loved writer’s life on a Maine island, this updated edition offers a moving, humorous account of adjustment to a way of life that has sustained Ogilvie through the creation of 42 popular novels.

June 28
On Harbor’s Edge: Book One: 1912-1913 by Kate Hotchkiss

When an unsuspecting bride gets into a boat one stormy June day in 1912, Thaddeus takes her far out to sea to the end of Popplestone Isle. There villagers welcome Mildred with hopeful joy, but she discovers the tiny fishing community is headed for a most dreadful end. In her efforts to save their treasured harbor home, Mildred must risk losing everything she holds dear.

July 26
Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song by Ashley Bryan

Ashley’s autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. His story is powerful, bursting with his creative energy, and a testament to believing in oneself. It’s a book every child in America should have access to and it does what the very best autobiographies do; it inspires!

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan

In May of 1942, at the age of eighteen, Ashley Bryan was drafted to fight in World War II. For the next three years, he would face the horrors of war as a black soldier in a segregated army. Filled with never-before-seen artwork and handwritten letters and diary entries, this illuminating and moving memoir by Newbery Honor–winning illustrator Ashley Bryan is both a lesson in history and a testament to hope.

August 23
One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer

Sarah’s aunt Edna paints portraits of chairs. Not people in chairs, just chairs. The old house is filled with the paintings, and the chairs themselves surround her work-a silent yet vigilant audience. At the funeral of Grandma Hutton-whom Edna has cared for through an agonizingly long and vague illness-Sarah begins helping her aunt clean up the last of a life. This includes honoring Grandma’s surprising wish to have her ashes scattered in Scotland.

September 27
An Upriver Passamaquoddy by Allen J. Sockabasin

When Allen was a child in the 1940s and 1950s, his village was isolated and depended largely on subsistence hunting and fishing, working in the woods, and seasonal harvesting work for its survival. Passamaquoddy was its first language, and the tribal traditions of sharing and helping one another ensured the survival of the group.

October 25
The Glass Town Game by Catherynne M. Valente

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

November 22
Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such asThe Metamorphosis,The Scarlet Letter,The Iliad,and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

December 20 (third week of the month to minimize holiday conflicts)
Rules by Cynthia Lord

Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules-from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

January 24
Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge by Susan Hand Shetterly

Shetterly takes readers deep into the world of this essential organism by providing an immersive, often poetic look at life on the rugged shores of her beloved Gulf of Maine, where the growth and harvesting of seaweed is becoming a major industry. While examining the life cycle of seaweed and its place in the environment, she tells the stories of the men and women who farm and harvest it—and who are fighting to protect this critical species against forces both natural and man-made.