Review: Eyes That Kiss in the Corners By Ho & Ho

“Some people have eyes like sapphire lagoons
with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,
sweeping their cheeks as they twirl.
Big eyes, long lashes.

Not me.”

And with that beautifully poetic opening, one of the most powerful, self-affirming books I’ve ever seen draws you into the world of one little girl as she describes her own eyes and the heritage that she is connected to with them. Be delighted by Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho, 2021.

“Eyes that kiss in the corners” is the precise way that she describes her own eyes (“and glow like warm tea.” Dang, can I just read the whole beautiful thing to you?! Just go buy the book – there – review over. Ha!)

Her eyes are like her mama’s, and her Amah’s, and her little sister… Each of their eyes are similar, with kissing in the corners, but with each person she describes in a beautiful word picture the depth of what their eyes mean to her and the delightful things about them she treasures and thus treasures about herself too. She finds beauty and history and power and meaning and imagination with her eyes that connect to theirs. They are all beautiful and all her.

What a breathtaking book! I have followed Joanna Ho on Instagram for a while and learned from her immense teaching expertise and thoughtful posts for anti-racist education. So I was thrilled when HarperCollins Children’s offered to send me a copy for my thoughts. (Book was a gift, my opinion is my own.) The words are so lyrically driven and they spin off the tongue with beauty and meaning. I am so deeply impressed that this is Joanna Ho’s first book (and not surprised that she has several others already coming soon!) Her words create a delightful reading experience and thoughtful moments and memories with each description.

Combining the words with Dung (pronounced Zung) Ho’s gorgeous illustrations has produced this stunning book. The illustrations were created digitally which I can see, but also am amazed by. Dung Ho is clearly a masterful digital illustrator. The textures, the lighting, the palette, the composition and movement… every little part is just so well done.

This book is clearly a window for our bookshelf and I love it so incredibly much. My family is not Asian and our eyes most closely resemble those of the girls she notes in the first spread—so how incredibly important that we are reading a book like this that helps us see and celebrate something we don’t have or understand. And it absolutely thrills me to think of all the children I do know with such special eyes and how this book represents them in such a positive, power-affirming way!

My girls loved this upon first read. The sister relationship is the clear favorite for them, but I also heard my oldest twirling parts of the text aloud as she recalled different ways the words sounded and how they were used as descriptions. They immediately started naming their own friends with “eyes that kiss in the corners” and then began brainstorming ways we would choose to describe our own eyes. The enjoyment and encouragement from this book are immense. Congrats to Joanna Ho on her first knock-out picture book, and Dung Ho on so beautifully illustrating the story!

Check out Eyes That Kiss in the Corners which hit bookstores last week! And keep an eye out for Joanna Ho’s upcoming books!

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