I Dream of Popo

Livia Blackburne, illus. by Julia Kuo. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-24931-9
Steeped in personal history, this picture book from a Taiwanese American author-illustrator-editor team tenderly portrays the time zone–transcending love between a girl and her grandmother. Spotlighted variations on the titular phrase launch descriptions of the experiences the first-person protagonist shares with Popo: “I bow to Popo on New Year’s Day,” one page begins, sensorially relaying Lunar New Year traditions and foods that the family enjoys. Though the child subsequently moves from Taiwan to the U.S. (“I wave at Popo”), meets new friends (“I think of Popo”), and learns English (“I talk to Popo”), her relationship with Popo remains robust, even as her ties with her first language weaken. Digital illustrations evoking vintage advertisements have an effectively nostalgic quality, enhanced by abstract-colored skies, a subtle rice paper–like texture, and a subdued mid-century modern palette, while contemporary touches, including spreads of the girl and Popo video chatting, ground the story in the present day. A richly nuanced narrative that illuminates the interstices of one family’s diasporic experience. Back matter includes author’s and illustrator’s notes, as well as a Mandarin-English glossary with pronunciations in pinyin. Ages 3–6. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/25/2020
Release date: 01/05/2021
Genre: Children's
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