RED WING -- V.T. Bidania came to the United States as a child, when her family emigrated from Laos. Everything was new to her then, but for her children today, growing up in America is a vastly different experience.

Bidania, who lives in the Twin Cities now, is making it possible for them and for other Hmong American children to see themselves in print.

She is breaking new ground with a series of four chapter books featuring Hmong American characters -- fun-loving 8-

year-old twins Astrid and Apollo -- as protagonists. The books were released in August.

Sitting in the quiet courtyard between studio buildings at Tower View, Bidania talked about the books while being videotaped for the Anderson Center’s annual Minnesota Children’s Book Festival.

Astrid and Apollo try many new things, including those ever-popular Minnesota activities fishing and camping and also some traditional Hmong events ‑ a soccer festival and a New Year celebration. The books are recommended for readers ages 5 to 8.

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Bidania and seven other regional authors/illustrators talk about their background, their inspiration, their books, and much more in a series of videotapes that were filmed in conjunction with the book fair.

The videos can be seen -- one each day -- starting Sept. 12 at andersoncenter.org/bookfest or on the center’s YouTube channel or Facebook page. Starting Sept. 19, the day of an in-person book celebration at Tower View, all eight will be available.

Sitting in the quiet courtyard at Red Wing Anderson Center at Tower View, V.T.  Bidania talks about the importance of children being able to see themselves in literature. Ruth Nerhaugen / Contributor
Sitting in the quiet courtyard at Red Wing Anderson Center at Tower View, V.T. Bidania talks about the importance of children being able to see themselves in literature. Ruth Nerhaugen / Contributor

The other featured authors and illustrators and their featured books are:

  • Daniel Bernstrom, “Big Papa and the Time Machine,” a whimsical tale about a boy and his grandfather traveling through time, celebrating bravery and discovering their African American history. (Ages 4-8)
  • H.M. Bouwman, “A Crack in the Sea” and companion book “A Tear in the Ocean,” historical fantasy novels that reimagine the outcome of tragic events, with a magical bent, and tell moving narratives about family, magic and history. (Ages 10-12)
  • Cori Doerrfeld, illustrator of “That’s Life!”, a witty send-up of greeting card wisdom, and author/illustrator of “The Welcome Wagon,” about a young bear and his friends who learn about meeting new people. (Ages 3-7)
  • Bao Phi, “My Footprints,” the story of a young Vietnamese American girl who finds inner courage, rising above bullies, embracing differences and experiencing the power of a loving family. (Ages 5-9)
  • Caren Stelson, “A Bowl Full of Peace,” a picture book adaptation of the story of a Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor that makes the difficult topic of nuclear war manageable for children. (Ages 6-11)
  • Lauren Stringer, illustrator of “Looking for Smile,” which tells the journey of Bear, who discovers his smile is gone and enlists friends to help him find it. Author is Ellen Tarlow. (Ages 0-8)
  • Kao Kalia Yang, “The Shared Room,” the story of a Hmong American family living with loss and love, providing a message of comfort and hope to readers of all ages. Illustrator is Hmong American artist Xee Reiter

If you go …

Who: Anderson Center

What: Minnesota Children’s Book Festival

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19

Where: Tower View

How much: Free

More info: www.andersoncenter.org or 651-388-2009