Monday, February 4, 2019

Review - My Footprints

My Footprints
by Bao Phi
illustrated by Basia Tran
Date: 2019
Publisher: Capstone
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 34
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels "double different." She is Vietnamese American and she has two moms. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully's taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage - just like Thuy.

(synopsis from NetGalley; see the book on Goodreads)

I'm not sure what it is about this book. There really isn't much objectively wrong with it. I just didn't love it.

Maybe it's the style of illustration. It's cute and helps tell the story... but it's not really a style I like.

Maybe it's the slightly vague message. I read the book after having forgotten what the synopsis said it was about, and I didn't really get the theme from the actual reading. At first, I didn't really see what making animal tracks had to do with overcoming bullying; it becomes more clear later, but I'd be afraid little kids might lose interest--or the point--by then.

Thuy's made-up creature is a little heavy-handed. I'm not sure a child as young as her (she's in the midst of losing her teeth, so she's likely in the 5-7 age range) would come up with a creature that's so representative of so many marginalized groups; as a result, that part comes across as the adult author speaking through his child character, and it's not subtle.

I'm also not a fan of third-person, present-tense writing. It doesn't disappear into the background enough, and I'm constantly aware of it... when I just want to be focusing on the actual story.

I can see this book working well for others with different tastes. Some people might like the artwork and the writing style and not be bothered by the vagueness of the message or the small child being used as a mouthpiece. But when I read a picture book, I want to forget I'm reading and just lose myself in the story. For me, this book has too many things that remind me that I'm just a reader looking in from the outside.

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.67 out of 5

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