A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kai Cheng Thom's From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea is a gentle exploration of love, acceptance, gender, and identity for young readers. Beautiful, flowing illustrations show the different forms young Miu Lan takes as they grow up, not sure if they're a boy or girl, bird or fish, tree or star. Miu Lan's feelings of confusion and rejection when they start school are clear, and not hidden behind flowery language. The steadfast love of their mother is a lesson in how unconditional support gives strength to be who they are, and how that individuality can change the world around them. The story is a great way to talk about differences, to bring up the topic of gender identity for kids who understand how Miu Lan feels, and to encourage empathy for all.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In Kai Cheng Thom's fantasy tale FROM THE STARS IN THE SKY TO THE FISH IN THE SEA, young Miu Lan is born when both the sun and moon are in the sky, and doesn't know if he is boy or girl, fish or bird, tree or star. So they decide to be a little of all things, growing feathers to fly with birds, scales to swim with fish, and fur to play with puppies. Their mom sings a song every night: "Whatever you dream of, I believe you can be," and Miu Lan feels safe and loved. But when school starts, the other children want Miu Lan to be one thing, either a boy or a girl. Miu Lan tries to conform, but it makes them sad. With the support of their mom they find the strength to be just who they are, and to see the other children's reactions to that truth.
Is it any good?
Built on a foundation of love and acceptance, Kai Cheng Thom's simple, straightforward message is invaluable to anyone who feels like they can't be themselves. It may especially resonate with those who have non-binary gender identities. From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea shows the life-changing impact of unconditional love, and how free a person can feel when they can be themselves. Because this is a fantasy tale, readers can identify with parts or all of the characters in ways they might not in a fully human world. The blunt questions at school if they are a boy or a girl, and Miu Lan's reaction, show how questions that seem easy can be difficult to answer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Miu Lan's feelings about gender identity in From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea. Do you think someone needs to be either a boy or a girl, or can they be unsure, or change?
Are there places that are hard to be if you don't know if you're a boy or a girl? What can we do to make those situations easier?
What other books have you read about people who feel like they don't fit specific labels?
- Author: Kai Cheng Thom
- Illustrators: Kai Yung Ching, Wai-Yant Li
- Genre: Body Awareness
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
- Publication date: November 7, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Hardback, Kindle
- Last updated: November 19, 2020
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