Books by Jean Davies Okimoto

CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 21, 2002

Young readers will love this story of how four Chinese babies come to be welcomed into new families in North America. Especially powerful is the depiction of those who are traveling to China to get their children. A couple from Miami, a pair of women from Vashon Island near Seattle, a single mom in Minnesota, and couple with a Japanese surname in Toronto, Canada all set out for the city of Guangzhou, in China. Meanwhile, "Still asleep, Wu Li smacked her lips, Li Shen burped, Qian Ye yawned, and Chun Mei Ni snored." The parallel depictions of the soon-to-be parents and the soon-to-be adopted children across the ocean help to create the sense of family right from the beginning. The seven parents become a group in China and exchange stories and expectations as they make their way to the White Swan Hotel, their home away from home, while they arrange to meet and adopt their beautiful daughters. Dr. Aoki uses her own experiences with adoption as the basis for this account, co-authored by Okimoto (Dear Ichiro, not reviewed, etc.), who has written before about Asian-Americans and is herself the daughter of an adoptee. So's (Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats, below, etc.) effervescent watercolors in a vibrant and colorful palette add much to the presentation of a story that will intrigue and interest both those who are adopted and those who are not. A must buy for all libraries and a lovely gift for new families of all stripes. (extensive afterword) (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
TALENT NIGHT by Jean Davies Okimoto
FICTION
Released: March 1, 1995

Poor Rodney Suyama—he has two goals in life: one, to date gorgeous Ivy Ramos, and two, to be a rap star. Dating Ivy is out because she's enamored of the school's football star; rap stardom is only slightly more remote because, as his sister Suzanne points out, ``You gotta be black,'' and Rodney is Asian. Paired with Ivy on an English assignment and determined to impress her, Rodney decides to rap on the school's Talent Night. The only hitch is that his great-uncle is due for a visit, with promises of pots of money for Rodney and Suzanne if he ascertains that the family is keeping its Japanese heritage alive. It's all a bit light and silly, but also trendy; Rodney's dilemma will truly amuse readers. Best of all, Okimoto presents a portrait of racially and socially diverse kids who get along just fine without a whole lot of adult Sturm und Drang; it's a nice change. (Fiction. 11+) Read full book review >
MOLLY BY ANY OTHER NAME by Jean Davies Okimoto
Released: Nov. 1, 1990

A 17-year-old adoptee's decision to search for her birth mother, with the ensuing emotional difficulties, is the burden of this choppy, overexpressed story. Molly Jane Fletcher's biological heritage is Asian—she knows no more than that. The only daughter of two white professionals who love her dearly, Molly wrestles with the issues raised when someone from the Northwest Adoptees Search Organization visits her family-psychology class at school. Molly has always wondered about her birth parents, but has feared that asking questions would hurt her parents. Now, knowing that there's an organization to help, she feels that she must find out more for her own peace of mind. Both parents are hurt by her quest, but they rally; in time, all three meet Molly's birth mother, whose own story is given several chapters. Though some minor characters here are stereotypical (a nosy neighbor, a popular guy who comes on too strong), and while the dialogue is frequently stilted and feelings are too often described rather than felt, the subject is compelling enough to maintain interest. Read full book review >
TAKE A CHANCE, GRAMPS! by Jean Davies Okimoto
Released: Nov. 1, 1990

Jane, 12, and her grandfather encourage each other to overcome their losses and find new relationships. After his wife's death, Gramps has moved in with Jane's family, stopped wearing his teeth, and opted out of active life: he just watches TV. Then Jane's best friend, who was popular, sure of herself, and full of good ideas, moves away; Jane faces starting junior high without her. As she expects, the first day is awful, and she fears that permanent invisibility may be setting in. Then, at Mom's instigation, Jane and Gramps start attending senior citizens' dances at the Seattle Center—each having been urged to help the other through a bad time. They do; and an attractive widow and her grandson match their needs nicely, as does Gramps' advice that having friends depends on being one. Adequate light fare. Read full book review >