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Emi Watanabe Cohen

Born: Boston, Massachussettes
Connection to Illinois: Cohen grew up on the South Side of Chicago.

Biography: Emi Watanabe Cohen was born in Boston and grew up on the South Side of Chicago. The stories she tells are informed by her mixed Japanese/Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, as well as by her experiences growing up in a multilingual environment. Her earliest memories contain a hodgepodge mix of English, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, and Russian, and she spent eleven years studying Mandarin in school. With her love of languages comes a deep appreciation for all the beautiful things that languages can convey. Emi recently graduated from Brandeis University in 2021 with a BA in Creative Writing. The Lost Ryū is her debut novel.

  • The Lost Ryu Chicago Public Library · Kids’ Indie Next List, Starred Review - Shelf Awareness, Illinois READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2024

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Young adult readers


Selected Titles

ISBN: 1646142691 OCLC: 1372393047

Levine Querido [S.l.] : 2024

Faye has a tough time concentrating in School. It’s easier to be silent and fade into the woodwork than take on the challenges of kids at school who mock her bi-racial heritage, and her competitive family at home, none of whom are good listeners. Except possibly for her brother Shiloh, who tries to speak extra so she doesn’t have to. (Maybe a bit too much extra?) They have a private made up language that they call “Effalese” which is Japanese (from one side of the family) written in Hebrew letters (from the other side of the family.) And a thousand inside jokes. But the family dynamic is shattered when their uncle and cousin from the Jewish side arrive unannounced to say that it’s time the children learn the secret family magic: Golem Crafting. And it seems Faye DOES have a gift for it, even more so than Shiloh. But will it truly be the thing that makes Faye feel whole? And will it heal the bitter rifts in the family? Emi Watanabe Cohen’s story travels from the most awkward surface tensions to the beautiful depths of Jewish culture and lore for a tale of magical and emotional discovery.

The Lost Ryu
ISBN: 1646141326 OCLC: 1263662043

Levine Querido 2022

Kohei Fujiwara has never seen a big ryū in real life. Those dragons all disappeared from Japan after World War II, and twenty years later, they've become the stuff of legend. Their smaller cousins, who can fit in your palm, are all that remain. And Kohei loves his ryū, Yuharu, but... Kohei has a memory of the big ryū. He knows that's impossible, but still, it's there, in his mind. In it, he can see his grandpa - Ojiisan - gazing up at the big ryū with what looks to Kohei like total and absolute wonder. When Kohei was little, he dreamed he'd go on a grand quest to bring the big ryū back, to get Ojiisan to smile again. But now, Ojiisan is really, really sick. And Kohei is running out of time. Kohei needs to find the big ryū now, before it's too late. With the help of Isolde, his new half-Jewish, half-Japanese neighbor; and Isolde's Yiddish-speaking dragon, Cheshire; he thinks he can do it. Maybe. He doesn't have a choice. In The Lost Ryū, debut author Emi Watanabe Cohen gives us a story of multigenerational pain, magic, and the lengths we'll go to protect the people we love.