HomeAsian AmericansBook Review: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

Book Review: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

By Barbara Yau, AsAmNews Staff Writer

Even today, it’s still unusual to see a picture book featuring an Asian American child on a bestseller list. That’s why it’s exciting to see the newly released Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, written by Joanna Ho and illustrated by Dung Ho, on the New York Times bestseller list. It is also ranked on the top of Amazon’s Best Seller List in the Children’s Asian & Asian American Book category.

A powerful, poetic picture book, it tells the story of a young Asian American girl who notices that her eyes look different from her peers and that they are shaped more like the women in her family. Drawing strength from the powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment. The story is a celebration of diversity, and it aims to teach young readers to be confident and to not judge others who look different. 

AsAmNews recently recruited parents and their young children to share their thoughts and opinions about the book. Here are some of their impressions:

Camryn Ling (age 9), CJ Ling (age 11) and their mom, Julie Lai Ling

Camryn Ling (9), CJ Ling (11) and their mom, Julie Lai Ling

Camryn (age 9): I liked the book, and I liked all the details in the pictures. It was about EYES, EYES, EYES — but not literally. The message of the story was, “You are beautiful!” I would recommend it to Asian kids of all ages because other kids won’t know the words that have to do with Chinese culture.

C.J. (age 11): The only thing I didn’t like about the book is that it only refers to one gender…when it can be applied to both boys and girls.

Julie (mom): I wish I had a book like this when I was growing up. And I wish I had this when Camryn was younger, so that she could see that her eyes may be different, but that they are also beautiful. She would have figured it out on her own that her eyes are different, but it would have been great to have a book to say that they are normal. The pictures were very, very nice. I would buy it for anyone with a young baby girl. It would be a good book for them!

Mia Li (age 3.5) and her mom, Linda Lau

Mia Li (3.5) and her mom, Linda Lau

Mia (age 3.5): I like the book. I like the orange lychees, mei mei, and ah-ma. 

Linda (mom): The illustrations are beautiful and vibrant. The subject matter made me incredibly nostalgic. The book took me back to memories of my childhood. It reminded me of the stories my mother told me. I do feel that someone with my background would enjoy the storyline slightly more than my very Americanized daughter due to the reason that she has a void where I have memories. There is so much packed into the book that is deeply rooted in tradition — references to Guanyin, lychees, the almighty dragon and the representation of three generations. My understanding of the meanings behind these references makes the story more meaningful and rich. In order for my daughter to enjoy it the way I do, I would need to supplement the storyline with additional stories and explanations that give each traditional reference the meaning they deserve.

Emma Wang (age 6) and her dad, James Wang

Emma Wang (6) and her dad, James Wang

Emma (age 6): I liked the book, especially the pictures. I liked seeing the girl and her sister playing. It was a good and interesting story, and the message was that it is okay to be different. I would recommend it to someone my age — a girl or a boy.

James (dad): I liked the book too. The illustrations were beautiful, and it was a nice message especially for kids her age who are recognizing differences but are unable to articulate what they are feeling. I liked that the message wasn’t overt. It was more subtle. I saw the book at Target the other day, and it captured my eye, especially since we are a multicultural family. I especially liked the title because I’ve never seen anything described in that way. I would recommend this book!

Warren Chan (age 8) and his mom, Virginia Fung-Chan

Warren Chan (8) and his mom, Virginia Fung-Chan 

Warren (age 8): It was a good book. I liked the pictures because they were colorful, and I especially liked the dragons. The story was okay. I would recommend this to boys and girls who are five or six years old.

Virginia (mom): I liked that the book talked about multiple generations — three generations of women who share the same eyes. It was a beautifully illustrated book. I think that it’s a great book for Chinese and Asian American kids who can benefit from seeing people that look like them.

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