cover image The Most Beautiful Thing

The Most Beautiful Thing

Kao Kalia Yang, illus. by Khoa Le. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-6191-5

Yang centers her cherished paternal grandmother in this poignant picture book memoir. Utilizing the past tense, Yang’s narration is effectively mythologizing (“All my life with her, even with just her one tooth, Grandma never said no when we offered her something to eat”), crafting a portrait of her grandmother as a strong matriarch who was orphaned young, foraged for food for her three younger siblings, and once faced down a tiger, yet still persisted. As Kalia gets older, though, she begins to grow frustrated with the amenities her family regularly forgoes as poor Hmong refugees— and when Kalia asks for braces, Grandma reminds her what truly matters. The level of detail in Le’s textural illustrations, rendered in mixed media and digitally, recalls the intricate needlework designs of traditional Hmong textiles, and the story’s depths of familial love and history ground the narrative. Front matter includes a bilingual glossary, including pronunciations. Ages 7–8. Author’s Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Kate Kendrick, Astound US. (Oct.)