Flash Review: Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein & illustrated by Ed Young

By Maureen, 21 November 2021

As with most Japanese concepts, wabi sabi is not translatable into words. It is a way of being that must be lived.

Imagine then, my delight to discover Wabi Sabi, a brilliantly conceived picture book (ages 8+) that embodies all of the key elements of this illusive idea: from the inclusion of sparsely-worded haiku and the use of natural materials in the imaginative, earth-toned, mixed-media collage illustrations, to the unusual orientation of the book’s pages and its mud-splattered end papers. To younger readers, it is a story of a cat named Wabi Sabi, seeking the meaning of her name, and with it, discovering herself. To older readers, it is a loving and elegant homage to a very Japanese way of life, one that continues to endure to this day. Subarashi (wonderful).

Flash Review: My Footprints by Bao Phi & illustrated by Basia Tran

By Maureen, 31 October 2021

In poet Bao Phi’s diverse picture book, My Footprints (ages 5+), a little gap-toothed girl with dark hair and dark eyes imagines herself as different animals as she walks across a snow-covered landscape. Looking at the footprints she’s made, Thuy is, in turns, sad, gleeful, and angry. She’s fed up with being bullied and laughed at in school. With the help of her two moms, Thuy regains her confidence, creating an imaginary alter-ego embodying all that is dear to her. Basia Tran’s gorgeous colour- pencilled illustrations complement this gentle story about coming to terms with your own identity and drawing strength from it.     

Flash Review: Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

By Maureen Tai, 24 October 2021

Guji Guji (ages 4+) is a delightful picture book about love, family, and acceptance. And the perils of being too engrossed in your reading. Mother Duck doesn’t notice that she’s warming an oversized egg that has mysteriously rolled into her nest. When the eggs eventually hatch, she isn’t at all concerned that among her brood of multi-coloured ducklings, is a creature with distinctly crocodilian features. She names him Guji Guji and loves and cares for him as if he were like his other ducking siblings. Will this all change when Guji Guji meets others of his kind, and they turn out to have a ravenous appetite for duck meat? You’ll have to read to find out! Taiwanese author/illustrator Chih-Yuan Chen’s lovely tale will charm readers of all ages.

Flash Review: On My Way to Buy Eggs by Chih-Yuan Chen

By Maureen Tai, 17 October 2021

In Chih-Yuan Chen’s charming and gentle picture book, On My Way to Buy Eggs (ages 4+), we follow Shau-yu (“Little Fish”) as she threads her way through her sleepy Taiwanese neighbourhood to buy eggs for her father. Carefree Shau-yu toddles along in her flip flops: playing with shadows on the ground, peeking at a slumbering dog, finding all sorts of treasure: a blue marble, a line of crunchy leaves, a pair of spectacles. She is playful, imagining herself in a watery world, or pretending to be her mother, and curious, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Paired with textured, earth-toned illustrations, Chih-Yan’s masterful depiction of the little girl’s errand is a reminder of simple joys and everyday beauty, seen through the eyes of a child. What a wonderful world this is!