Awards and Reviews

While I Was Away

  • 2021 Oregon Spirit Book Award, winner, debut category, by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English (OCTE)
  • 2022 Oregon Book Awards Finalist, Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature
  • Association for Library Service to Children’s 2022 Notable Children’s Books list
  • New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids of 2021
  • 2021 National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (NCTA) Freeman Book Award, Honorable Mention
  • Bank Street Children’s Best Book of the Year for 2022 (for books published in 2021), in the 12-14 “biography and memoir” category.
  • The Friends of American Writers ( Award Winner
  • 2022–23 Oregon Battle of the Books official selection (6th–8th grade division). Hong Kong Battle of the Books official selection (secondary book list)
  • Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
  • School Library Journal, Review of the day (Nov. 19, 2021) by Elizabeth (Betsy) Bird (Former children’s material specialist in the New York Public Library)
  • Starred review, Booklist
  • Kirkus Reviews: “…An emotional, contemplative tale of risking and growing.”
  • Portland Book Review, 5 stars: “Don’t miss this wonderful book.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly: “This personal story offers readers a glimpse at Japanese and American cultural differences while stressing that what makes things different is also what makes them unique.”
  • School Library Journal, February 2021 issue: “This memoir artfully depicts Brown’s experience as a child who feels pulled between two cultures. A welcome addition to any middle grade collection.”

Dream, Annie, Dream

The Very Unfortunate Wish of Melony Yoshimura

  • Bank Street Books “Best Children’s Books of 2024,” 8-11, “Folklore and Fairy Tales” category
  • 2023 Oregon Book Awards Winner, Leslie Bradshaw Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature
  • School Library Journal, Best Middle Grade Books of 2023
  • Starred review, School Library Journal: “An engaging tale of morality, friendship, and identity that blends relatable tween angst with deliciously creepy Japanese folklore.”
  • Kirkus Reviews: “This well-paced story uses foreshadowing to create suspense and build anticipation while exploring themes of independence and autonomy so important to tween development. Blurring the lines of reality, it relies on psychological elements, rather than leaning on blood and gore, before ultimately leading to a safe, comforting homecoming. A satisfyingly scary story about pushing boundaries.”
  • Publisher’s Weekly: “Brown conveys practical lessons on morality via an empathetic protagonist; by interweaving Melony’s contemporary struggles surrounding autonomy and independence with the origin text’s foundational narrative, the author delivers an evenly paced speculative tale whose anticipatory atmosphere sows tension.”
  • Booklist: “Brown takes the Japanese folktale “The Melon Princess and the Amanjaku” and updates it here for American readers, many of whom will identify with Melony’s middle-school tribulations and desire for independence. A fresh take on the ‘be careful what you wish for’ motif.”
  • Horn Book Magazine: “Brown’s eerie tale is a suspenseful, just-scary-enough story of the supernatural.”