Book Reviews

Special A.C.E. Stories

Online Paper (PDF)

Bids & Public Notices

NW Job Market


Special Sections

Asian Reporter Info

About Us

Advertising Info.

Contact Us
Subscription Info. & Back Issues





Currency Exchange

Time Zones
More Asian Links

Copyright © 1990 - 2024
AR Home


The Asian Reporter's

From The Asian Reporter, V34, #5 (May 6, 2024), page 11.

A lot of history is packed into the 40-page A is for Asian American

A is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet

By Virginia Loh-Hagan

Illustrations by Tracy Nishimura Bishop

Sleeping Bear Press, 2022

Hardcover, 40 pages, $17.99

By Jody Lim

The Asian Reporter

We discovered A is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet, written by Virginia Loh-Hagan and illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop, this year. It’s a book aimed at first through fourth graders and written at a second-grade reading level, but it’s one that people of any age could learn from. It’s full of people, places, dates, concepts, resources, and more.

By just flipping through the front and back matter of A is for Asian American, I learned some history I’d never read before, in addition to important holidays and firsts.

Some lesser-known milestones learned within just the first few pages were:

1763 — Filipinos establishing the first Asian-American settlement in the bayous of Louisiana was an early immigration milestone.

1885 — A ruling by the Supreme Court of California in favor of Mamie Tape, an eight-year-old Chinese-American student, was an early Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) social-justice movement milestone that ensured minority children had a right to attend the state’s public schools.

1937 — Gobind Behari Lai, the first Indian American to win a Pulitzer Prize, marked a milestone in pop culture. Lai was also the "first journalist to describe himself as a ‘science writer.’"

1950 — A milestone in innovation was achieved by Isabella Aiona Abbott, who was the first native Hawaiian woman to earn a doctorate in science. Studying Hawaiian seaweeds, Abbott discovered more than 200 species, and also created recipes using the sea vegetable.

Then I finally dove into the "ABCs" — with each letter presented in lyrical prose alongside about two to four paragraphs of additional information.

Under "A" — for Asian American — readers find out that the continent of Asia has more than "40 countries, more than 2,000 spoken languages, and hundreds of ethnic groups." When reading "C" — "Communities" — the emergence and importance of Koreatowns, Little Indias, Little Tokyos, Manilatowns, and Asiatowns are discussed.

"P" highlights the "Pioneers," who "blazed trails in the past, paving the way for others to ensure they’re not the last." The trailblazers depicted include Dalip Singh Saund, Patsy Mink, Kamala Harris, Sunisa Lee, Anna May Wong, and others.

Illustrator Tracy Nishimura Bishop’s colorful images are inviting and eye-catching. The "J" and "K" pages — "Japanese Anime" and "Korean Wave" — are playful and bright. "R" — "Remembrance" — is a serious and somber drawing that emphasizes that we "never forget" the mistakes of Executive Order 9066 issued on February 19, 1942. And "Z" — "Zodiac" — features all 12 animals represented in the lunar calendar.

I, of course, read A is for Asian American to my nephew, a kindergartener, and he took it all in. When asked what his favorite illustrations were, he said: B: "Beautiful Country," G: "Grandparents," O: "Outer Space," U: "Undefeated Spirit," and Y: "Yahoo and YouTube."

He was intrigued by the image of astronaut Kalpana Chawla in her orange NASA uniform on the "H" page. Chawla appeared alongside accomplished Asian Americans Duke Kahanamoku, Jeanie Jew, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Larry Itliong. In the book, "H" stands for "Heritage and History Month."

A is for Asian American: An Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Alphabet introduces readers to food, celebrations, accomplishments, movers-and-shakers, and more. Purchase your own copy or check it out from a library to see for yourself what Virginia Loh-Hagan and Tracy Nishimura Bishop have created for us to learn from and enjoy.

Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
Go to <>!

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books