For this week’s Brainstorm I’ve got 5 Filipino tales for you. All of these feature Filipino characters, one is a Filipino-inspired fantasy, and I believe all these authors are of Filipino heritage. Click on the titles to see my full reviews for each book including any content notes/trigger warnings.
Any Day with You by Mae Respicio
Kaia is really looking forward to 2 things this summer: film camp where she can grow her special effects makeup skills and spending time with Tatang (her great-grandfather) doing all their favorite things. But the summer gets a shade of sadness to it when Tatang announces that he's moving back to the Philippines for good at the end of the summer. Kaia adores Tatang, his stories inspired by Filipino mythology, and their special activities they do together. She figures that if she and her two best friends win the film competition they work on at camp maybe that will convince Tatang to stay.
A sweet story that celebrates Filipino culture and intergenerational relationships beautifully.
Great-grandparent/Great-grandchild Story Fans, California Setting Fans, Filipino Mythology Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Movie Maker Story Fans, Family Story Fans, Self-Discovery Story Fans, Summer Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers
Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, ill. by Kristi Valiant
Cora is very excited the day her Mama decides she's old enough to help cook. She learns about the family's history of cooking and then cooks pancit with her Mama while wearing her Lola's old apron.
A celebration of achieving "big kid" status, and the foods integral to families.
Filipino Food Lovers, Family Story Fans, Contemporary Fiction Fans, Tagalog Learners, Picture Book Readers
Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
Life on Sanlagita is not always easy, but Lalani and her friends and family get by. However, the rains haven't come in many, many days and things are starting to get more desperate. Nothing ever changes in Sanlagita. The menyoro dictates how things will be. He says they must respect, fear, and avoid the mountain on the island or it will be angry with them. Women must become menders or planters. Men become ship builders or fishermen, and the strongest men get chosen to become sailors who go north in search of the fabled land of plenty Isa. But no one has ever returned from sailing north. What can one little girl do to help save her island from disaster?
An ode to courage in the face of overwhelming adversity, and an introduction to Filipino mythical creatures.
Dystopia Fans, Fantasy Fans, Filipino Mythology Fans, Survival Story Fans, Middle Grade Readers
Smaller and Smaller Circles by F.H. Batacan
Pre-teen boys are showing up in the city dump dead with very distinct mutilations. When the police start to notice that this is a trend, Father Saenz (a forensic anthropologist) and his associate Father Lucero (a psychologist & former student of Saenz's) are called in as consultants to help profile and find the serial killer. Unfortunately, there's not a lot to go on. Few pay attention to kids living in and around the dumps. The case is slow going, made even more challenging by the slow-developing forensic practices, the politics, and entrenched habits of Filipino police work in the late 1990s, still recovering from days under a dictator when corruption was rampant.
This was a fascinating mystery just for the setting. You get a good dose of Filipino history and culture along with an intriguingly-written mystery. The serial killer mystery part does get a bit brutal and harrowing once you find out more details, but it is also a good reminder of how hard it is for certain people groups to get justice, even today, in various places around the world.
Mystery Fiction, Philippines Setting Fans, Filipino History & Culture Studiers, Historical Fiction, Adult Readers (approachable to some mature Young Adult Readers)
When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling, ill. by Aaron Asis
A description of what sights, sounds, tastes, and smells summer brings for a Filipino American girl during a season full of special foods and events as her grandmother visits from across the ocean.
This is a stunning picture book! The illustrations and the lyrical text written in a series of similes are so beautiful.
Grandmother/Granddaughter Story Fans, Filipino Food Lovers, Summer Story Fans, Simile Studiers, Art Lovers, Sensory-Appealing Writing Fans, Picture Book Readers