2021 South Asia Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
2021 Award Winners
A Gift for Amma: Market Day in India by Meera Sriram (Barefoot Books, Inc., 2020). An enchanting, cultural journey of vibrant delights awaits a young girl as she weaves through the market in India dodging pigeons, buffalo and speedy rickshaws while nestled in the heart of fragrant spices, flowery perfumes, shimmering feathers and tasty morsels. But which colorful treasure will be perfect for her Amma? (Grades PreK-3)
Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin (Annick Press, 2020). Set in Myanmar, this story is about Hasina and her family who belong to the Rohingya community and the threat they face from Sit Tat. During an attack, Hasina escapes into the forest, returning to find the village destroyed and her family missing. The rest of the story highlights her struggles to locate the family members. (Grades 6 and above)
2021 Honor Books
Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar (Yali Books, 2020). Ayesha will not let anything stand in the way of her Ritu didi getting married to her beloved Chandni. Narvankar’s story, set in present-day India, invites young readers to join in a wedding celebration of two young women who are supported by their family and friends despite the prejudices of the community. (Grades K-3)
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi (Quill Tree Books, 2020). Mimi is spending the summer in Karachi and learns about the city and the culture through the eyes of Sakina, who works at Mimi’s grandparents’ house. Sakina wants to attend a school and needs to improve her English, and helps Mimi find her dad. A heartfelt and delightful book about two girls from different worlds, of friendships and families. (Grades 3-6)
2021 Highly Commended Books
The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard (Pajama Press, 2020). Pari, a young Afghan girl, hits the road with her mother, who operates the only library bus in Kabul. Together, they travel through the countryside, lending books to girls along the way. This book captures the excitement and feeling of freedom of a child learning how to read.
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar (Alladin, 2020). Lekha, the only Indian American kid in her small town, feels like she must be two versions of herself. At school she is embarrassed by her Indian culture and tries to avoid hurtful comments from classmates. But when a new Indian family moves into town, Lekha rethinks her approach.
A Maiden’s Prayer: A Family Story Set in 1970s Sri Lanka by Srianthi Perera (Evocative Journeys, 2020). This spellbinding novel narrated by a witty and keenly observant aspiring writer, teenager Tamara de Silva, unravels family and community secrets while detailing the role of astrology, match matchers, and scheming Aunties’ efforts to marry off her eligible bachelor uncle, all amid the cultural and political atmosphere of the times.
A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan (Clarion/HMH, 2020). Sixth grade Pakistani-American Sara reluctantly attends an after-school cooking club run by her mother and meets classmate and cooking enthusiast Elizabeth. Realizing they have more in common than their perceived differences, the girls team up and enter a cooking contest that tests their tentative friendship (Grades 4-6)