Sunday, January 31, 2021

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho,
illustrated by Dung Ho
HarperCollins/Harper, 2021, 40 pages

When this story begins, readers only see the back of the young narrator as she begin talking about the eyes of her friends: "eyes like sapphire lagoons/ with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,/ sweeping their cheeks as they twirl./ Big eyes, long lashes." Turn the page and readers meet the narrator, a young Asian American girl. Is she envious of her friends big eyes? Not at all, because she has eyes "that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea." Just like her mother's eyes.
The unnamed narrator tells readers that her mother's eyes laugh and sparkle like starlight when she happy, and show gold flecks at night as she tucks her daughter into bed. And her mother's eyes are just like her Amah's. Amah's eyes, she says, may not be a good as they once were, but "she can see all the way into my heart and can even read my mind." And her Amah's eyes are filled with so many wonderful stories from Asian mythology.

Little sister Mei-Mei's eyes also kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea just like her sister's, her mother's and her Amad's eyes. And the way Mei-Mei gazes up at her older sister in such admiration that it makes her feel like she can fly.  
Told in beautiful, descriptive lyrical verse, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners is an ode and a celebration of self, family, heritage and culture connect these three generations to each other in such a deep and poignant way.  
Complimenting the text are bold, brightly colored digitally created illustrations. The artist, Dung Ho, has incorporated traditional Asian motifs like peonies, dragons, fish, phoenix's, and yes, that sure looks like Mulan in the top center of the above page.

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners is such a beautiful story of family and female empowerment. It was a true pleasure to read a book about a young girl's intact self-esteem and total self-acceptance who also feels such joy regarding who she is. I am very excited to read this to my young readers when we meet again. And I think this book couldn't come at a more opportune time as a way of countering the negative "slanty-eye" stereotyping that seems to be on the rise right now.

If you are looking to share a book with a positive message about self-acceptance, you can't go wrong with Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. And don't forget to download the Activity Guide courtesy of the publisher.

Meet the Author:
Joanna Ho is passionate about equity in books and education. The daughter of immigrants from Taiwan and China, she has been an English teacher, a dean, and a teacher professional development mastermind. She is currently the vice principal of a high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. And mom to two energetic kids. Homemade chocolate chip cookies, outdoor adventures, and dance parties with her kids make Joanna's eyes crinkle into crescent moons. Learn more at and follow her on social media @JoannaHoWrites.

Meet the Illustrator:
Dung Ho was born and raised in Hue Imperial City, Vietnam, where she studied graphic design at the Hue Arts University. She finds inspiration in nature - the beauty of plants, flowers, and leaves. She also loves to draw interesting characters with unique personalities. Now she lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she continues to learn and develop her art, something she loves doing. When she's not drawing, she loves spending time cooking (eating), watching movies, and tending her plants.

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
This book was gratefully received from Keely Platt at Spark Point Studio

1 comment:

  1. This book is utterly gorgeous!!! And it sounds like the writing is just as wonderful.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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