Bookshelf Spotlight: SEA Children’s Books

Featured Books

* Sarimanok Series: a “Philippine” Primer
* Kraken-ka the Komodo Dragon: A Tale of Indonesia
* Judge Rabbit and the Tree Spirit: A Folktale from Cambodia
* Elephants of the Tsunami
* Kancil and the Crocodiles: A Tale from Malaysia
* Fishing for Islands: Traditional Boats and Seafarers of the Pacific

Sarimanok Series: a “Philippine” Primer

by Leonor Testa-Feliciano MD, Theresa San Luis M.A. (Contributor)
BookSurge Publishing, 2010

An introduction to the spectacular culture of the Philippines examining various aspects including climate, farming and industry, history, religions, food and peoples. Contains full color illustrations and photographs in 33-page interior depicting Filipino culture. This book, first in the Sarimanok Series was proposed and authored by Filipino-Americans, Dr. Leonor Testa-Feliciano and Theresa San Luis, M.A

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Kraken-ka the Komodo Dragon: A Tale of Indonesia

By Jodi Parry Belknap, Tamara Montgomery, Joseph D. Dodd (Illustrator)
Calabash Books LLC , 2007

“Take from the Earth only what you need”, Naga the Goddess of Wisdom and Beauty, tells the first dragon of the world as she places him on an island in the middle of the ocean. And yet, Kraken-ka, the Komodo Dragon, disobeys the Goddess and is made to suffer the consequences for his actions when he fails three times, to live by her law.

This richly-illustrated cautionary tale, written in the pour quoi style is reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. It is set on Komodo Island in Indonesia and illustrated with art inspired by one of the world’s oldest dramatic traditions, the shadow puppets of Wayang Kulit. A performance CD with activities and information designed to expand understanding of the Komodo Dragon and the Wayang Kulit tradition accompanies the book.

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Judge Rabbit and the Tree Spirit: A Folktale from Cambodia/Bilingual in English and Khmer

By Cathy Spagnoli (Author), Lina Mao Wall (Author), Nancy Hom (Illustrator)
Children’s Book Press, 1991

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Judge Rabbit, a Cambodian folk hero, stars in this unique bilingual (English/Khmer) tale. When a woman’s husband is called for military service, the jealous spirit of a banyan tree takes his human form. Believing this “man” is her husband, the wife is justifiably confused when her actual husband returns. The human husband enlists the help of Judge Rabbit, who produces a small bottle and declares that “only the true husband can fit inside this bottle.” The tree spirit quickly enters the container and husband and wife are reunited. The story’s universal appeal will be evident to readers even as they cheer Judge Rabbit’s clever adjudication. Incorporating native flora and fauna, the bold, primitive paintings, though occasionally static, are vibrant counterpoints to the facing English text and blend the Khmer narrative into their striking design.

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Elephants of the Tsunami

By Jana Laiz
EarthBound Books, 2007

Elephants of the Tsunami is based on a true story about eight working elephants of Thailand, who, during the 2004 South Asian Tsunami, freed themselves from their bonds and raced down to the beach to rescue nearly fifty people who otherwise would have been consumed by the sea. Sensitively written and beautifully illustrated, Elephants of the Tsunami is a picture book for all ages, and a wonderful way to tell children about a frightening event without subjecting them to explicit images or traumatic language.

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Kancil and the Crocodiles: A Tale from Malaysia

By Noreha Yussof Day
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 1996

On a hot, sunny day, Kancil the mousedeer and his best frind, Kura-Kura the turtoise, spot a tree full of ripe, juicy fruit that would be the perfect snack to satisfy their thirst. The only problem is, the tree is on the other side of a crocodile-infested river. Can crafty Kancil trick the hungry crocodiles into helping them cross the river?

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Fishing for Islands: Traditional Boats and Seafarers of the Pacific

By John Nicholson
Allen & Unwin Academic, 2000

From bamboo rafts to the double-hulled voyaging canoe, this book is a celebration of the traditional boats of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The people of these island countries depend on the sea, and their ships reflect their mastery of sailing and shipbuilding. Early sailors built simple dugout canoes, but the invention of the outrigger and the double-hulled canoe allowed the Polynesians to navigate rough waters and sail thousands of miles more than 1,000 years before the Greeks and Romans mastered the Mediterranean. From New Zealand to Hawaii to Indonesia, this book discusses fishing techniques, navigational methods, and boat building facts.

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