Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
“A gorgeous book with an inspiring point of view: treasure your uniqueness, your relationships, and your place in the world.”
Debut picture book and #ownvoices author Joanna Ho ends her book Eyes that Kiss in the Corners with a warmth and lyricism that runs throughout this beautiful story, “My eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea are a revolution. They are Mama and Amah and Mei-Mei. They are me. And they are beautiful.” A tribute to self-confidence and the power of a strong self-image, this is a book about inner and outer strength that will appeal to many readers, young and older.
The main character is this story, a young girl, discovers that her eyes are uniquely shaped, while those of her friends are “eyes like sapphire lagoons with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns.” She is not sad. She is not sorry. She is not apologetic. There is no need for that kind of sentiment. Rather, she is incredibly positive and proud. After all, her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. There’s a lot to celebrate about that! “Mama’s eyes . . . crinkle like crescent moons . . . eyes sparkling like starlight.” “Amah’s eyes . . . don’t work like they used to, but she sees all the way into my heart.” “Because when she looks at me in that Mei-Mei way, I feel like I can fly.”
Dung Ho’s digital illustrations are colorful and vibrant and elevate this already joyful story to higher levels of happiness. She captures the young girl’s glee at discovering how her eyes carry a rich history, “My eyes find mountains that rise ahead and look up when others shut down. My lashes curve like the swords of warriors and, through them, I see kingdoms in the clouds.” She is part of a multigenerational epic story, and she is filled with excitement to have her place in it.
Several times, author Ho repeats the phrase, “My eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea” to underscore that this story is a lovefest between a love of self, a love of family, and a love of history and culture. What an important message to children (and grownups)—at any time, but particularly now—when sadly there have been terrible anti-Asian feelings expressed toward people of Asian cultures, blaming them for the global pandemic.
A gorgeous book with an inspiring point of view: treasure your uniqueness, your relationships, and your place in the world. “When Mama tucks me in at night, her eyes tell me I’m a miracle. In those moments when she’s all mine, flecks of dancing gold tell me I’m hers too.”