Of course, I was happy to do so. But life got busy and crazy (it seemed like I was doing a school visit every day in April!) and I wasn't able to do the research I needed for the article I wanted to write. So instead,in order to make their deadline, I ended up modifying my multicultural author post for them.
The article I wanted to write was going to be inspired by these two comments made in the reviews of Lissy's Friends. This one by a wrung sponge:
Another thing I really like about this book is that although Lissy is clearly Asian, the story is not about being Asian. There is no reference to her ethnicity, which puts her Asian identity squarely in the realm of ordinary....
(entire review here)
And this one from MotherReader:
I liked that Lissy’s way to make friends begins with doing what she likes to do and being herself. The theme of Lissy’s Asian-American heritage is not the source of conflict or isolation, but it is her special knowledge of origami that helps her break through her shyness and connect with the people around her.
(entire review here)
Both of them touched upon the fact that in the story, even though Lissy is Asian, her race and heritage is not the crux of her problem. Nor does she even think about it. Which, when you think about it, kind of unusual.
Because most books that feature Asian Pacific characters tend to focus on racial identity. About fitting in or not fitting in, about being different or celebrating differences, accepting identity. There's nothing wrong with those books. It's an important issue to write and read and make books about. Heck, I make a lot of them.
But for multicultural books to move towards what we all really want--a place where that label is no longer needed--books have to start shifting from that focus. Multicultural books have to start depicting characters in situations and with problems that are not about the racial divide, but about issues and events that all kids have.
And here was where I was going to start making a list of books where the characters were of Asian-Pacific descent, but the stories were NOT about them being of Asian-Pacific descent. But nothing was jumping up (except Ruby Lu and one book does not make a list, even if I added the sequel) and I ran out of time to research.
So I put it to YOU. What books are there where the character is Asian but the book isn't about him/her being Asian? Let me know. Maybe I can get the article in by next May.