Title: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING
Author: KAO KALIA YANG
Illustrator: KHOA LE
Genre: CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, FAMILIES, MULTIPLE GENERATIONS
Length: 32 PAGES
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: OCTOBER 6, 2020
ISBN: 9781541561915 (Hardcover)
Price: $17.99 USD (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money.
Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States.
When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most.
Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.
MOST BEAUTIFUL REVIEW & LINKS
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL is a gorgeously illustrated, intergenerational, story about a Hmong-American family who left their ancestral homeland in hopes of a better life.
The story is told from a young girl’s point of view. Her family home includes her parents, her siblings and her grandmother.
As the child gets older, she will occasionally ask for something expensive from her parents. However, despite the fact that they worked hard, there was no money left over for extras. Her Grandmother is always around and tells stories of her own childhood and the hardships she faced. Obviously, the grandmother’s situation was much more dire than that of the narrator.
The author has perfectly captured the aging of both the young girl and her grandmother. She also conveys the child’s emotional intelligence and her maturity levels with perfect ease.
The illustrations in this book are nothing short of brilliant. In fact, I would love it if the artist offered prints of each of her layouts. I, for one, would 100% purchase them.
I should rate this book as 5 Stars, however I felt the ending could have been better. However, please DO NOT let this deter you from buying this book. We need more books from diverse and multicultural authors. It is imperative that children have access to books they can personally relate to. Also, children from other cultures should be exposed at a young age to books from diverse backgrounds.
Books such as THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING are important in a multitude of ways. I am rating this book as 4.5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American writer. She holds degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University. Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers’ Choice, a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction.
The book is a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read title and on the roster of the American Place Theatre’s Literature to Life Program.
Her second book, The Song Poet won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize. The story has been commissioned as a youth opera by the Minnesota Opera and will premiere in the spring of 2021.
Yang’s debut children’s book, A Map Into the World is a American Library Association Notable Book of the Year, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, winner of the Northstar Best Illustrator Award, and now a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.
Her co-edited collection titled What God is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss By and For Indigenous Women and Women of Color is a groundbreaking work that centers the poetry and prose of women whose voices have been neglected and silenced on the topic despite the fact they experience these losses disproportionately. The book was one of the ten best books of the fall of 2019 by the Star Tribune and forty other national papers.
In 2020, Yang will publish her second children’s book The Shared Room, a collective memoir about refugee lives, Somewhere in the Unknown World, and another book for children, The Most Beautiful Thing.
Kao Kalia Yang is also a teacher and a public speaker.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:
Khoa Le has illustrated picture books published in a number of different countries.
She is also an author, a graphic designer, and a painter. Khoa has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures, and a desire to discover the beauty of the world.
Her inner moth makes her attracted to any source of light, but her dream is to one day see the northern lights.
She lives in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, with her five cats.
She is the winner of the Grand Prize Samsung KidsTime Authors Award 2015 (Singapore) and the second runner up of The Scholastic Picture Book Award 2017 (Singapore).
Khoa also has a passion for travel, an eagerness to learn about different cultures, and a desire to discover the beauty of the world.
To read an interview with Khoa Le click HERE.
Freelance illustrator, graphic designer and painter based in HCMC, Vietnam
Graduated from HCMC University of Fine Art, Graphic design department
Exhibition of Graphic Design Department, HCMc University of fine art 2008 -Group exhibition Myth and sleepwalker, digital art 2008
Group exhibition Small 2009 -Biennale of the young artist 2009 (group exhibition)
Solo exhibition Unravel 2010
Group exhibition Cyber space 2010
Group exhibition My sister, San art 2011.
Group exhibition Eperantopolis 2011 – Group exhibition Art Expo Malaysia 2012
Asia Contemporary Art Show, Hong Kong 2012, group exhibition
To learn more about this highly talented Illustrator visit the following links: