This poetic tale of self-acceptance by author Ho follows a Chinese American girl who recognizes how her eyes—different from peers with “eyes like sapphire lagoons”—evoke those of her mother, grandmother, and younger sister: “eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Mama’s eyes inform the first-person narrator that “I’m a miracle,” while Amah’s eyes “are filled with so many stories,” and Mei-Mei’s eyes gaze “up at me/ like I am her best present.” Warm, dimensional digital spreads by illustrator Ho (the Mindy Kim series) bolster this celebration of heritage with images of peonies, chrysanthemums, dragons, phoenixes, and figures from Chinese mythology, including Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit, Guanyin, and the Monkey King. Readers familiar with Chinese culture will recognize additional touches: Amah wears a jade bracelet, and an upside-down Fú character heralding good fortune is pasted by the family’s front door. A poignant testament to familial love and legacy. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—When she does not share physical traits with those around her, a young girl finds beauty in her uniqueness. One day at school, a young girl of Asian heritage remarks on the shape and color of the eyes of the light- and dark-skinned girls in her class. Instead of having big eyes with long lashes, hers "kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea." At home, the girl celebrates all she shares with her Mama, Amah, and little sister Mei-Mei. Together, these four women view the world through their matching, expressive eyes. Even when she feels apart from her peers at school, the young protagonist finds solace in the shared appearance of her family's eyes. Sweeping, expressive illustrations deeply connect readers to the many dimensions of this story. The featured characters comprise three generations of Asian women; the only male in the book is found in the background of a scene in the schoolyard. Lyrical text propels the story; while relatively limited, each word is carefully chosen to beautifully enhance the message. VERDICT Expertly paired, the text and illustrations amplify each other superbly, in an important addition to every library serving young children and their families.—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver P.L.
A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.
In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)
This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)