Andrea Rogers: I Read Asian and Pacific Islander American Books

photo credit Roy Thomas

Debbie Michiko Florence is a third generation Japanese American with many fond memories of her family’s traditions and of growing up in California. Reading about how other multigenerational Japanese Americans developed annual mochi making traditions led her to wonder what would happen if a Japanese American girl wanted to pound the mochi, a traditionally male job. This led to her writing Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen, (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2017) the first book in her Jasmine Toguchi series. Florence’s most recent book, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter (Scholastic) was released just a few days ago.

A Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 Selection
An Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids List 2017
A Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books 2017
A 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner
A We Are Kid Lit Collective 2019 Summer Reading List Pick

from the publisher:

“Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!
Screen Shot 2020-05-10 at 12.38.58 PMShe’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie—something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?”

“Jasmine, the 8-year-old Japanese-American heroine of this charming chapter book, wants to help make mochi, a sticky rice dessert. When she’s told that only men can pound the rice, she decides to convince everyone that she can do it. In this first of the series, readers get a plucky heroine, an easy-to-follow plot, a warm cast of extended family members and, at the end, a recipe for mochi.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Florence paints a lovely picture of a warm, extended family whose members truly care about one another and take each other seriously…New readers thirsty for series fiction will look forward to more stories about Jasmine and her family.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This first entry nicely balances humor with the challenges of growing up; readers will devour it.” —School Library Journal

“The Toguchi family’s warmth and affection for one another will leave readers eager to spend more time with them.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Andrea L. Rogers is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a graduate of the Low Rez program at the Institute for American Indian Arts. Her short stories have been published in Transmotion; Kweli Journal; Yellow Medicine Review; The Santa Fe Literary Review; and Waxwing. Her children’s book, Mary and the Trail of Tears: A Cherokee Removal Survival Story (Capstone) came out in January 2020.