Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
Joanna Ho and Dung Ho
There’s a pleasing circularity about Joanna Ho’s lyrical tale of self awareness, family love and tradition that is narrated by an un-named schoolgirl.
At the start, having described the eyes of some of her schoolmates – ‘ like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns’ she says, ‘I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea. / My eyes are just like Mama’s.’
She then goes on to tell us that the other women in her family have similar eyes. Her Amah has eyes filled with stories; her younger sister Mei-Mei uses her eyes to watch at the window for the return of big sister from school when they can be together again.
We then share in the delights her own eyes discover. With Amah beside her she sees ‘Guanyin with the Money King / sitting on a lotus, serene, // baubles of lychee on trees, / and mountains that reach for the sea.’ … ‘I see kingdoms in the clouds. ‘
Throughout, the vibrant digital illustrations of Dung Ho with their swirling patterns and beautiful flora, are strongly evocative of Chinese culture and stories; and there are some unmentioned additions such as the jade bangle worn by Amah.
(my mother had a similar one she bought in Hong Kong) and the upside-down Fu (happiness arriving) symbol on the front door.
A lovely celebration of being who and what you are, with an uplifting final statement ‘My eyes … are a revolution … They are me. And they are beautiful.’
Foundation stage classes often explore ‘myself’ and ‘family’ as part of the curriculum: this is a book to share as part of either topic.