7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #735: Featuring Dung Ho

h1 March 21st, 2021 by jules

“My eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea are a revolution.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


On the first spread of Joanna Ho’s Eyes That Kiss in the Corners (Harper, January 2021), we see a young girl on her way out of the house, backpack on her shoulders. We see her from behind. She pauses by a mirror. What does she think when she sees her face? As she waves to classmates on the next spread — once again, we see her from behind — she notes that their eyes are shaped differently than hers. “I have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea,” we read when we finally see her face on the following spread (pictured below). She stares proudly at the reader. The girl is Asian, and she loves her eyes, which are just like her Mama’s and her Amah’s and her sister’s.

This ode to self-acceptance, self-respect, and familial legacy features the sunny, brightly colored illustrations of Dung Ho in a style that recalls the work of classic Disney artists. The palette is largely one of warm, luminescent earth tones with the girl’s vivid crimson dress popping off the page. The spreads featuring her Amah (one is pictured below) sweep across the pages, Dung often depicting the subject of traditional Chinese stories that Amah shares (Guanyin with the Monkey King, in one instance).

This is a house full of girls and women (as far as we can tell), and the narrator speaks devotedly of each throughout the book. There’s her mother: “When Mama tucks me in at night, her eyes tell me I’m a miracle.” Amah’s eyes are “filled with so many stories; I can fall inside them and swim until time stops.” Her younger sister’s eyes “disappear beneath her two-tooth smile when I walk in the door.”

Joanna’s text flows like poetry: It is lyrical, evocative. And Dung fills these spreads with shapes that match the shapes of this family’s eyes. Look closely at flowers and their petals, feathers, the wallpaper, patterns on quilts — it is a book to linger over. And it bursts with dignity and joy.

Here are some spreads. …



(Two images above: Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


“Amah’s eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea
don’t work like they used to. …”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“My eyes crinkle into crescent moons and sparkle like the stars. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)



EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS. Text copyright © 2021 by Joanna Ho. Illustrations copyright © 2021 by Thi Hanh Dung Ho and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) In the wake of the horrific Atlanta shootings this past week, I appreciate this tweet from author Stephanie Lucianovic. Click on the tweet to head to Twitter to read the rest:



2) This beautiful new song from Kishi Bashi:



3) This that Dan Levy retweeted this week. (Don’t look if you don’t want Schitt’s Creek spoilers.)

4) Related to that: This image and these words from artist Michah Player:



5) This NYT piece. Very moving.

6) Walks with friends.

7) The zoo!

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #735: Featuring Dung Ho”

  1. Hi Imps! Happy spring, everyone!

    Hi Dung Ho! Love the colors and the movement and the joy in these images. Thank you for sharing.

    Jules: I saw Wolfwalkers. It was cute.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Getting things done
    2) Pacing
    3) Discussions
    4) Helping
    5) Sharing
    6) Space
    7) Time

  2. Love these elaborate, detailed and warm illustrations. I think the spread that accompanies “My eyes crinkle into crescent moons and sparkle like the stars. …” is my favorite, with all the dragons and lions and other animals.

    Jules – love that Dan Levy shared that, and of course love that tweet. Yay for walks with friends and the zoo. Bookmarking the NYT article.

    Little Willow – your kicks this week feel very energetic and focused. Love getting things done, and how the last 4 kicks flow and complement one another like a poem.

    This was another rough week, for so many, and I am grateful for the organizations and people who are giving aid.
    My kicks this week:
    1) Some businesses in Portland were targeted as well in hate crimes aimed at the AAPI community, which is awful and not a kick. The kick comes in with all the local orgs that get the word out and our community that comes together to help.
    2) Getting up super early to have coffee and a walk in the cold with a friend I hadn’t seen since last summer.
    3)Started reading “Take Good care of the Garden and the Dogs” by Heather Lende and so far I am enjoying it. (picked it up at an estate sale because of the title.)
    4) Watched the first episode of City of Ghosts on Netflix and I am hooked. Love the characters and love that the Ghost Club explores different neighborhoods in LA. They also go to the main library in LA, (and leave their parents in the coffee shop). That library is one of my favorite places in that city.
    5) This was a helpful and interesting podcast about how the pandemic has affected our bodies: https://onbeing.org/programs/christine-runyan-whats-happening-in-our-nervous-systems/
    6) And this feature on Gary Handman’s daily pandemic cartoon journal is terrific, as are his cartoons. (He’s a retired librarian!) https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-03-20/cartoon-journal-reflects-on-covid-19-pandemic-effects
    7) Making tentative and hopeful plans to see friends and maybe travel this summer (depending on safety).
    7.5) Had a week where I was out of the house more than usual for work, and Daisy was not thrilled, so we are having a slow and easy Sunday hanging out together. Grateful for time to slow down.

  3. Little Willow, glad you saw it. Love that animation. I think it was nominated for an Oscar.

    Rachel: Ooooh, thanks for these links! I shall explore. Love that 7th kick. So hopeful. Fingers crossed. Hope you have enjoyed your slow, stay-at-home Sunday.

    hvae a good week, you two!

  4. Happy Sunday, almost Monday EDT, Jules. This book is beautiful. I am so happy it is a permanent part of my personal collection. I am so happy you were able to walk with friends and go to the zoo.

    Little Willow: There is so much satisfaction in getting things done. When you do something you’ve been putting off, you wonder why you waited so long.

    Rachel: Glad you are able to make plans for future ventures out and about in the world.

    My kicks:
    1. Sunny days
    2. Running with Mulan in the backyard
    3. Phone calls with friends
    4. Heartbreaking but important special on CNN The Human Cost of COVID
    5. Stack of picture books
    6. Read Beauty Mark: A verse novel of Marilyn Monroe by Carol Boston Weatherford in less than 24 hours. It is excellent
    7. Getting my 2nd vaccine tomorrow. In two week I get to go grocery shopping. The last time I went was June 1, 2020 and before that March 6, 2020.

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  5. Margie: Congrats on the vaccine! I look forward to reading that book by Weatherford. Hugs to Mulan!

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