Hello, friends! Our book today is I Am Able to Shine, written by Korey Watari and illustrated by Mike Wu, an lovely tale of cultural, racial, and female empowerment and pride.
Keiko often feels out of place. In school, at ballet class, and on the basketball court, it seems like she is either invisible or being judged for her differences. Yet Keiko is proud of herself and her Japanese heritage, so with the support of her family, she decides to hold her head high. Eventually, new friends are drawn to the unique hobbies, skills, and attributes that set Keiko apart. By being confident and unapologetically herself, Keiko is able to succeed, to lead, and to shine.
Uplifting and affirming. As we are only a few days away from AAPI heritage month, this celebration of being Japanese- and Asian-American comes at a great time for young bookworms who may be navigating their own cultural identities. Keiko’s story strikes a nice balance of honoring how her heritage and personality inform each other, as well as who she is as a whole. Adding in a smattering of unambiguously feminist and LGBTQ+ messaging, this is also a unique look at cultural intersectionality for young readers. Wu’s artwork, which draws from traditional Japanese ink painting, fits the theme of blending cultures to form one’s identity perfectly. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ really enjoyed the encouraging text. Overall, a wonderful story about finding pride in oneself, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note a copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)