Eyes that Kiss in the Corners: Written by Joanna Ho and illustrated by Dung Ho
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners is the book that I needed this year. During a time when Asian bodies continue to be targets of mockery, blame and violence while Asian and Asian American experiences remain largely invisible, Joanna Ho’s book, with powerful illustrations from Dung Ho, provides a musical and loving language for self and collective affirmation. “I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea,” announces the girl narrator proudly as she gazes into the reader’s eyes, creating a moment of mutual recognition. The same smiling and discerning eyes connect mother to daughters, grandmother to granddaughters, sister to sister. Ho’s book beckons us to partake in this revolution of self-declaration and will leave multiple generations of readers feeling transformed, celebrated and seen.
The Shape of Home dazzles in imaginative power. Rashin, the child narrator, describes her first day of school in America. Her observations and recollections form through colorful shapes. Iranian breads are shaped like braided hair. Her friend de ella makes her de ella heart-shaped bracelets. Lines of pedestrians and circles of wheels paint the street scene of New York City. How wonderful for Rashin to have a teacher who is attuned to her grammar of shapes de ella. When her class de ella explores the country each person is from, Benin looks like a flashlight, Iran becomes a cat, and Italy turns into a boot. Together the class fashions a shared language of home and belonging. With its exquisite details and gorgeous illustrations, The Shape of Home delivers an unforgettable, heartwarming story.
I Love Boba: Written by Katrina Liu and illustrated by Dhidit Prayoga
Katrina Liu’s I Love Boba is a jubilant celebration of the versatile Taiwanese invention that is both drink and sweet topping. Written in couplets, the rhythm of the book perfectly mimics the happy mood of imbibing this delicious drink. Dhidit Prayoga’s illustrations add to the magic. The center spread of a Boba community of all sizes is especially delightful. Children and adults alike will enjoy learning about the origin and variations of Boba. And while you are at it, why not pair this charming book with a Boba drink to make a new holiday tradition? Take heed that “[m]ilk tea is a classic choice, but if you don’t like dairy, perhaps you should try matcha…mango, melon or berry.” Cheers!