Monday, December 9, 2019

Review - Krit Dreams of Dragon Fruit

Krit Dreams of Dragon Fruit
by Natalie Becher & Emily France
illustrated by Samantha Woo
Date: 2020
Publisher: Bala Kids
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

A beautifully illustrated, Zen-inspired picture book for children ages 4-8 about moving to a new home, making friends, and finding beauty wherever you are.

Krit and his dog, Mu, love their beautiful home in Thailand--full of golden temples, colorful mountainsides, and endless adventures. Everything seems perfect until Krit's mother announces they will be moving to the frigid city of Chicago. At first, Krit tries to adjust to this unfamiliar place, but he can't do any of the things he used to love. Missing Thailand, Krit asks his mother to tell him a story about home. But instead of a story, she gives Krit a koan--a Zen riddle--to puzzle through. Krit wonders what the story about a blade of grass and Buddha's smile have to do with home, but in solving the puzzle, Krit meets a new friend and learns that home is wherever he makes it.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Krit Dreams of Dragon Fruit is a story about the immigrant experience and finding home wherever you go.

I like the overall premise. Unfortunately, in this case, it seems subtly appropriative. The authors' note at the end further muddies the issue and makes me wonder about the motivation for using a Thai boy as a main character. There's a huge difference between a child being dragged across the globe by his parents to an unfamiliar city and an affluent adult making their own decisions about where they want to go.

The writing is mediocre. A glaring dangling participle tripped me up early on. There's also evidence that writers today don't know how to properly use quotation marks when dealing with paragraph breaks. (I'm not picking on these two specifically; I'm seeing this more in recent years in various picture books.) The illustrations are okay, but I found them a little flat. I wanted to feel the way about Thailand that Krit did... but the pictures didn't really help get me to that emotional place.

Overall, this is okay in that it sort of introduces Buddhist concepts to kids. However, I question the use of a Thai main character. The use of that ethnicity sends the message (inadvertently or not) that Western kids can't be Buddhist. (A little digging shows me that Natalie Becher was born and raised in Thailand. Why on earth is this not mentioned anywhere? It would go a long way to making the book look less like it's trying to capitalize on someone else's culture.)

Thank you to NetGalley and Bala Kids for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.5 out of 5

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