A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some references to Chinese culture and mythology.
No matter what your differences are, they are special. Asian eyes are beautiful and powerful.
Positive Role Models
Baba and Agong (Dad and Grandpa) are supportive, loving, and inspiring. Their triumphant descriptions of eyes that they all share celebrate difference and being Asian.
Main character is a Chinese American boy, and all the characters are Chinese (his father, grandfather, and little brother).
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Violence & Scariness
No physical violence, but the first pages include a sad and emotionally hurt Asian American boy being picked up from school, having just experienced a racist incident (a White kid at school shames him for how his Chinese eyes look).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Eyes That Speak to the Stars is Joanna Ho's picture book sequel and companion piece to her wonderful Eyes That Kiss in the Corners. While her first book featured a little Asian American girl and her mother, grandmother, and little sister, this sequel features a little Asian American boy, his father, grandfather, and little brother. After experiencing some racism at school that made fun of Asian eyes, a little boy returns home sad and hurt. But his family are there to help him see how special and great his eyes actually are. As in the first book, the art is fantastic, bright, colorful, lush, and vibrant, and features pictures of Chinese culture, heritage, and mythology. Pages feature lush mountains, swirling skies filled with lanterns, night markets and street food, mango milk and rice paddies, dragons and phoenixes, sea goddesses, and "voices of ancestors." No strong language or violence, beyond the initial racist incident at school (a kid draws a racist picture of Asian eyes).
Is It Any Good?
Joanna Ho's second picture book is just as stunning as her first. Lots about Eyes That Speak to the Stars follows the same formula as her first book. While here the main character is an Asian American boy instead of an Asian American girl, readers are treated to similarly beautiful representations of Chinese culture, heritage, and mythology. And the central, if singular, message of how special Asian eyes are continues to be reaffirming and powerful. Perhaps especially for little Asian American children everywhere, this book is important even for featuring such an Asian American family. Asian American children can immediately pick this book up and say, "Hey, that's me!" and, "That's you, Daddy!"
However, also like the first book, a lot of the main message relies upon the idea that there is a "natural" power and beauty to having the same eyes as other family members. But this idea also can suggest that biogenetic relatedness is more "natural" or better than families whose relations are not based in biogenetic similarity (that "naturally conceived" families are somehow forever more bonded, connected, genuine, or real). Thus, this book, like its predecessor, may not be a book for alternative families or adoptive families, where kids might not share physical similarities with their family or parents. There are many children's books that do focus on how the physical differences between child and parent don't matter at all.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Books with Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander Characters
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