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Book Reviews

Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Jo (A Book Review)

Companion to the picture book, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, Eyes That Speak to the Stars is an inspirational story about self-acceptance that reminds readers to recognize their own power and strength from within.

In this story, a young boy notices his eyes look different from his friends’ after seeing a picture drawn by his classmate in school.  The picture shows the boys’ eyes drawn like two lines stretched across his face while all the other kids in the picture have big, round eyes.  The incident at school leaves the boy feeling sad, but after school his father proceeds to reassure him that his eyes “rise to the skies and speak to the stars”.  His eyes are special and so is he.

By the end of the book, the boy realizes just how amazing his eyes are.  They resemble those of his father, his grandfather, and his little brother.  Four generations of beautiful eyes that rise to the skies and speak to the stars.

“My eyes that rise to the skies and speak to the stars are visionary.  They are Baba and Agong and Di-Di.  They are me. And they are powerful.”

This is a beautiful story that should be in every home and school library. Books like this may help to have productive discussions about self-acceptance, racism, and anti-bullying from an early age. Teaching children to accept people for who they are and what they look like may help mold young, impressionable minds to be more accepting and empathetic of others.

Unfortunately, many Asian Americans are still facing racist attacks, both verbal and physical – just for being Asian.  How sad is it that the shape of someone else’s eyes (or the color of their skin) is enough to make some people dislike them immediately?  When others reduce your entire identity to a simple facial feature like your eyes, it can have lasting and harmful psychological effects.   No one likes feeling left out, especially kids who are learning to discover where they fit into the world.

To every Asian who has ever been bullied, you are not alone.  You are seen, heard, and worthy.  People should not be ridiculed for the shape of their eyes, the color of their skin, or for any other reason.  Forgive yourself if you’ve let negative remarks make you think you needed to “fix” everything that bullies said was ugly and weird.  Understand that you don’t need to look like the Eurocentric standard of beauty to be liked or loved or to “fit in”.  Ignore the hateful remarks and hurtful comments.  Continue to hold your head high and look to the stars. For your eyes are magical, powerful, and beautiful.  “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars.”

Eyes That Speak to the Stars is recommended for ages 4 – 8 and up.  This book publishes on February 15, 2022, but can be pre-ordered now.

Read my review of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners here!

Have you read the companion book, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners?  Sound off in the comments!

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