2012 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

2012 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature Winners 

Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (Henry Holt and Company, 2011). Pen Pals Elliot and Kailash discover that even though they live in different countries—America and India—they both love to climb trees, own pets, and ride school buses (Grade 5 and under).

Island’s End by Padma Venkatraman (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011). A young girl trains to be the new spiritual leader of her remote Andaman Island tribe, while facing increasing threats from the modern world (Grade 6 and above).

2012 Honor Books

Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni, illustrations by Moyna Chitrakar (Groundwood Books, 2011). The Ramayana, one of the greatest legends of ancient India, is presented in the form of a visually stunning and gripping graphic novel, told from the perspective of the queen, Sita (Grade 6 and above).

Following My Paint Brush by Dulari Devi and Gita Wolf (Tara Books Pvt. Ltd, 2010). Following My Paint Brush is the story of Dulari Devi, a domestic helper who went on to become an artist in the Mithila style of folk painting from Bihar, eastern India (Grade 5 and under).

No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis (Groundwood Books, 2011). Valli has always been afraid of the people with leprosy living on the other side of the train tracks in the coal town of Jharia, India, so when a chance encounter with a doctor reveals she too has the disease, Valli rejects help and begins a life on the streets. (Grade 6 and above).

Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan (Simon & Schuster, 2011). In 1919, independent-minded Rosalind lives in India with her English parents, and when they fear she has fallen in with some rebellious types who believe in Indian self-government, she is sent "home" to London, where she has never been before and where her older brother died, to stay with her two aunts (Grade 6 and above).

2012 Highly Commended Books

Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan by Rafal Gerszak with Dawn Hunter (Annick Press, 2011). Award-winning photographer Rafal Gerszak spent a year embedded with the American troops in Afghanistan to bear witness to its people, culture, and the impact of war (Grade 6 and above).

The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World by Shahrukh Husain, illustrations by Micha Archer (Barefoot Books, 2011). Meet Mulla Nasruddin, a legendary character whose adventures and misadventures are enjoyed across the Islamic world (Grade 5 and under).

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2011). Eleven-year-old Dini loves movies, and so when she learns that her family is moving to India for two years, her devastation over leaving her best friend in Maryland is tempered by the possibility of meeting her favorite actress, Dolly Singh (Grade 6 and up).

Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Razorbill, Penguin Group, 2011). Written in free verse poems in a diary format, this novel straddles two countries and the clash of Indian cultures in the tale of 15-year-old Maya (Grade 6 and up).

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (Scholastic Inc., 2011). Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilarating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip (Grade 6 and up).

The 2012 South Asia Book Award Ceremony will be held in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, October 13, 2012. The SABA Award is sponsored by the South Asia National Outreach Consortium. Funded by the US Department of Education Title VI, Member National Resource Centers.

Submissions for the 2013 South Asia Book Award


In recent years an increasing number of high-quality children's and young adult fiction books have appeared that portray South Asia or South Asians living abroad. To encourage and commend authors and publishers who produce such books, and to provide teachers with recommendations for classroom use, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium (SANOC) will offer a yearly book award to call attention to outstanding works on South Asia.


Up to two awards will be given in recognition of a recently published work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry or folklore, from early childhood to secondary reading levels, published in English (translations into English will also be accepted) which accurately and skillfully portrays South Asia or South Asians in the diasporas, that is the experience of individuals living in South Asia, or of South Asians living in other parts of the world. The culture, people, or heritage of South Asia should be the primary focus of the story. The countries and islands that make up South Asia are: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the region of Tibet. We will also consider stories that take place in the Caribbean Islands that focus on a South Asian subject. In determining the award, books will be judged for: 1) quality of story; 2) cultural authenticity; and 3) potential for classroom use.


Eligible books include those that are published in the US, UK, Canada, and countries in South Asia. Consideration will be given to the ease with which school teachers and librarians in the United States would be able to order multiple copies. Books may be submitted by publishers or individuals, although the judges may consider any eligible book that comes to their attention.


To nominate a 2012 copyright title, publishers or individuals are invited to submit review copies to the award committee by December 31, 2012. There is no entry fee. Committee members will review the nominated books individually and will consult reviews in major publishing/library journals. Contact Rachel Weiss, Award Coordinator, at (608) 262-9224 or saba@southasiabookaward.org.

Mitali of Mankato: All Things Maud Hart Lovelace

Some of you may remember how much I enjoyed visiting Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott, and Prince Edward Island, where L.M. Montgomery set her Avonlea novels. This past weekend I checked off another visit to a childhood home of a spiritual author-mother. I attended the "Winding Hall of Fate: Betsy-Tacy Society Convention 2012" in Mankato, Minnesota—or "Deep Valley," as it's known in Maud Hart Lovelace's beloved stories.

I was invited to speak on an author panel, but mainly went to see if Mankato, like Concord, Ma, and Cavendish, PEI, felt like home thanks to the rich sense of place created by my favorite authors. And yes, by golly, it did—despite some disturbing "urban renewal" (read: 1970s uglification), I felt like I was wandering the streets of Deep Valley with some of my favorite fictional friends.

Enjoy the photo tour below. I use fictional names in the captions; read the thoroughly-researched afterwords in the recent HarperPerennial reissues to discover more about the real people in Maud Hart Lovelace's life.

View from my hotel room of the hills bordering "Deep Valley," or Mankato.
The tall spire is the Presbyterian church where Bonnie's father was a pastor,
and the site of "Christian Endeavor" meetings in the novels.
I woke up early and strolled past Carney Sibley's house, where the crowd gathered.
The sleeping porch, where Carney and her guests slept in Carney's House Party.

Next, my walk took me past Lincoln Park, the edge of Betsy's neighborhood.
Cab was one of the proud instigators of the infamous cannon escapade.
Finally, at the top of High Street, I spotted the Ray's house
(impeccably restored and maintained by the Betsy-Tacy Society).
A 360 view in the morning quiet.

 "Is Betsy home, Mrs. Ray?"
Tea on Betsy's porch.
Julia's piano.
Tour of Betsy's house.

List of books owned by the Ray family.
Where everything pudding was concocted.
One of the ornaments bought in the annual Christmas shopping spree.
Maud Hart Lovelace's Book of Common Prayer.
Mrs. Ray's brass bowl.
Tacy's front porch (this house is also restored and
maintained by the Betsy-Tacy Society—join now!)
The bench where Betsy and Tacy shared picnics.
I walked up to the Big Hill, but it was jammed with homes (nice ones, but still).
Nonetheless, the stately trees were still as alluring as in the books.
Tib's chocolate-colored house.
The Muller's front entrance.
First Presbyterian Church, site of the Betsy-Bonnie-Tony triangle.
Carnegie Library, where Betsy and Joe prepared for the Essay Contests.
Miss Sparrow, Indian version, waits to meet Betsy.
The high school no longer exists, but here's what it looked like back in the day.
Mineopa Falls, site of a Sibley picnic in Carney's House Party.
Was this the Beidwinkle's farm? We think so.
Murmuring Lake.
View from the old cabins at Murmuring Lake.
The beautiful co-conspirators who organized the Convention, aka Bonnie and Carney.
Jennifer Hart of HarperPerennial talks about how she brought the books
back into print and encourages us to share them with the
next generation of readers, which I plan to do. Won't you join us?
Note: I didn't take a photo of Emily's slough (from Emily of Deep Valley, my favorite Maud Hart Lovelace novel), but I did see it and we drove through what used to be known as "little Syria." Again, the slough looks just as I imagined it, even though what used to be the Webster's house is now the site of the high school. Here's a lovely photo of it taken by Francesca Russell.

Four Young African Guys on Hollywood Stereotypes

Some of you may have already seen this, but this video is a classic example of how humor can be used effectively to discuss cultural stereotypes (as we're hoping to do in our forthcoming YA anthology from Candlewick, tentatively titled OPEN MIC).

Reflections On My Virtual Retreat

I took time away from social media this summer, and here's what I discovered:

(1) I was able to write, finishing a full draft of TIGER BOY (forthcoming from Charlesbridge in 2014). Good news: editor Yolanda Roy likes it!

(2) I relished the silence, not missing the loud opinions of people who abuse social media as propaganda. Twitter and Facebook simply aren't appropriate containers for the big issues of life. They are best for small talk, a perfectly valid, relaxing, entertaining form of communication. Blogs are better at serving up political and religious opinions, but still not as good as well-edited articles or excellent oral presentations, which both take more time to prepare and demand the accountability of vetted research. For big, deep thoughts and arguments, at least in my opinion, there's nothing to match the spacious, thoughtfully crafted vessel of a book.
(3) I read more, prayed more, and deliberately spent more time with people face to face.

(4) After this break, I've decided to put a stop to assessing my own and others' social media "influence," getting rid of my Klout account and doing my best to ignore the numbers. Every voice matters equally, despite the claims of our celebrity culture.

(5) I got lonely at times, and remembered anew that isolation is a hazard of self-employment. The chat, humor, entertainment, and buzz of social media is a gift to writers, as is the ability to stay aware of news and events in the lives of people we cherish.
In any case, I'm back now. I'll be tweeting from the Betsy-Tacy convention this weekend in Mankato, Minnesota, where I'll be sharing five writing tips I've gleaned from author Maud Hart Lovelace. Here's to detox, rehab, and a fresh start.