When an episode of teasing makes Yuriko doubt herself—her name, her heritage, her interests—her father gently guides her back to her roots and herself.
For a school assignment, Yuriko brings in a photograph of herself in a cherished kimono. When she comes home, her excitement has changed to despondence. Her classmates laughed and told her that Japanese dolls have black hair, while Yuriko is blonde. Then the new art teacher mispronounces her name and assigns a subject Yuriko has depicted in art before. In response, Yuriko impetuously declares she should now be called Michelle, and Michelle does not like art. Her father listens carefully and cleverly takes Yuriko to revisit the things she loves: her favorite restaurant for sushi and the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park. Illustrated with spare, clean watercolors, there is subtlety in this tale that’s told almost completely through the dialogue between father and daughter. Some will identify with the cultural details that ground the tale; all will relate to how teasing makes Yuriko feel uncertain about the very things that make her unique. Yuriko does some critical and creative thinking about her identity and her art, proving herself her father’s original—and favorite—daughter.
This is as much a story about cultural pride as it about self-esteem and problem-solving, from which all can draw a lesson. (Picture book. 5-8)