Flash Review: A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin

By Maureen Tai, 25 April 2021

In Grace Lin’s fun and beautifully illustrated A Big Bed for Little Snow (ages 3+), a little boy in snowflake-dotted pajamas gets a new bed at the start of winter. His mother says it’s for sleeping, not jumping. No sooner has she disappeared from view, the impish Little Snow cannot resist jumping on his puffy, feather-filled, cloud-like bed. With each jump, feathers burst out of his bed, feathers that are curiously snow-like … Lin accompanies her modern-day fable with masterful renderings of the exuberant Asian American boy. The pictures positively pop out of a white background, inviting the littlest ones to jump along!

Flash Review: The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

By Maureen Tai, 18 April 2021

In her delightful wordless picture book, The Farmer and the Clown (ages 3+), Marla Frazee tells the sweet, whimsical and heart-warming tale about the unexpected meeting between a solitary, grey, Prairie farmer and a bubbly, affectionate, baby clown. Having accidentally bounced off a passing train, the baby now clings to the dour farmer’s legs. The kindly old man brings the child home to his farmhouse, and as the night and day progresses in gorgeously atmospheric pencil-and-gouache illustrations, so blooms their endearing friendship. Younger readers will cherish this visually stunning and touching ode to the connective and redemptive power of kindness.

Flash Review: The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly

By Maureen Tai, 11 April 2021

Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali have created a boldly empowering picture book (ages 5+) about a Muslim girl’s unshakeable faith and her loving relationship with her older sister, Asiya, who wears an ocean-blue hijab on the first day of school. As the day progresses, Faizah becomes anxious as several children show their prejudices with hurtful words and actions. The sisters’ strength of character, tempered by their mother’s wisdom, prevails gloriously in the end. The gorgeous, lyrical text in The Proudest Blue, accompanied by Hatem Aly’s sweeping, vibrant spreads will inspire pride in everything that makes us unique, including our faiths.

Flash Review: This is Hong Kong by M. Sasek

By Maureen Tai, 28 March 2021

Turning the pages of M. Sasek’s classic This is Hong Kong (ages 5+) with its evocative, detailed illustrations, is like stepping into history, to a time when the city’s streets were teeming: with rickshaws, hawkers and labourers carrying dried fish, silks or bricks on the end of bamboo poles, stylishly-coiffed ladies in cheongsams, and tourists seeking all manner of exotic goods. While some landmarks – notably the Tiger Balm Garden and Kai Tak Airport – and some sights – floating schools, traffic controllers in gazebos – no longer exist, Sasek’s pictorial ode to Hong Kong is enchanting for readers of all ages.