Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

Book review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners Book Poster Image
Lovely picture book celebrates family identity, heritage.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some references to Chinese deity of mercy and compassion, the Monkey King, Fa Mulan, and the Jade Rabbit. Illustrations of Chinese mythology, from dragons, lotus petals, phoenixes, and peonies. 

Positive Messages

The central message is of family, history, and cultural engagement. Because my eyes look like my mother's, grandmother's, and sister's, we all share the same beauty and history.

Positive Role Models

The unnamed main character notices that her eyes are not like "sapphire lagoons" but instead more like "eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea." She praises her mother, grandmother, and sister for all sharing similar eyes. The little girl optimistically and proudly recounts different ways her eyes and her family's eyes look the same. There are gorgeous and positive representations of cultural pride that resonate throughout the beautifully illustrated pages.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Joanna Ho's Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is a picture book featuring stunning artwork by Dung Ho (Mindy Kim series). A young Asian girl notices that her eyes do not look the same as many of her peers' eyes, which look like "sapphire lagoons." Instead, her eyes glow like warm tea and have more of a crescent shape like her mother's eyes. Each page subsequently details various ways the girl's family members have the same eyes. This beautifully illustrated book features lots of Chinese imagery and mythology, including references to Guanyin, the Monkey King, the Jade Rabbit, dragons, phoenixes, and flowers like peonies and lotuses. It encourages pride in your heritage and the ways that make you different. 

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What's the story?

In EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS, a young Asian girl notices that her eyes don't look like many of her peers' eyes. Instead of round eyes, hers are shaped like "baubles of lychee in trees" and "sparkle like the stars." Her mother's eyes look like hers, as do her grandmother's eyes and little sister's eyes. Through imagery of family life, Chinese cultural history, and mythology, each page provides a new metaphor that describes the connection the girl and her family share. After all, their eyes are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. 

Is it any good?

Author Joanna Ho packs this charming book with positivity, self-love, empowerment, and pride in your family heritage and culture. To help combat so many Asian children being made fun of at school for having "Chinese" eyes or looking "Chinese," Eyes That Kiss in the Corners works to establish its own narrative of the beauty of difference. Additionally, the artwork and illustrations here by Dung Ho are stunning, gorgeous, and even partly educational in terms of learning about Chinese traditions and mythology.

There are a couple caveats. While it may not bother some, there's no story to speak of here. It's just a series of family scenes that feature poetic metaphors for describing Asian eyes. Also, this may not be a book for alternative families or adoptive families, where kids might not share physical similarities with their family or parents. Eyes That Kiss in the Corners may unintentionally reinforce the idea that "naturally conceived" families are somehow forever more bonded, connected, genuine, or real. There are many children's books that focus on how the physical differences between child and parent don't matter at all. Rather, it is the ways in which we are the same inside (not the differences on the outside) that connect us.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Eyes That Kiss in the Corners handles difference. How does the girl's family help encourage her to see that her eyes are not only the same as theirs but just as beautiful as eyes that don't look like theirs? Why use Chinese mythology, history, and imagery to describe Asian eyes? 

  • In what ways are your eyes similar to other members in your family? In what ways are they different?

  • How might kids who have eyes that look different from their parents' feel about this book that celebrates having the same eyes as your parents? What other ways beyond physical similarity might this book suggest beautifully connects us to our families?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and Asian stories

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