#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes Warrior Women and Social Justice

[Monday Reading] The Rebellious Nature of Children’s Imagination Captured in 2018 Picturebooks Created by Female Artists of Asian Ethnicity

Picturebooks by JiHyeon Lee and Jillian Tamaki.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

These two 2018 picturebooks feature the wild, irrepressible spirit of children’s imagination – as captured by creators JiHyeon Lee (from South Korea) and Jillian Tamaki (of Japanese ethnicity, based in Canada).


Created by JiHyeon Lee
Published by Chronicle Books (2018)
ISBN: 1452171424 (ISBN13: 9781452171425). Borrowed a copy from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The story depicts a young child who has chanced upon a key, ostensibly dropped by a psychedelic-coloured fly.

The interesting thing about this book and its blurb is that it never really mentions specifically whether the child is a boy or a girl. As we know, kids are generally more empowered these days in dressing in whichever feels most comfortable for them.

I suppose it really is irrelevant in this story, as the child can be an any-child, unlocking this magical door that leads to something more interesting than any Alice-in-Wonderland-type-of-adventure. I like how the entire book is packaged, its overall wordless design with plenty of white spaces for the eye to rest.

The odd creatures reminded me a fair bit of Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing (see my review here),and I like how the child is initiated into the wonders of this universe beyond the door by an evidently-female creature with ribbons and an adorable sailor outfit.

Looking closely at the picture, it really is a celebration of the divergent, the unexpected, the surreal, with the inclusive air of welcoming the different and the strange. Absolutely beautiful.

They Say Blue

Written and Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Published by Groundwood Books (2018)
ISBN: 1773060201 (ISBN13: 9781773060200). Borrowed a copy from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

This book is not only a celebration of creativity and imagination, it is also a testament to mindfulness and paying close attention to colours, scents, and the passing of the seasons.

I personally found the book to be more wordy than absolutely necessary. I felt that the art was powerful enough, rendering some of the text superfluous.

Despite this, there is the uncontainable joy of simply being present, looking at the sunset, listening to the birds outside, and feeling the hands of one’s mother on one’s hair, braiding it into something beautiful.

#WomenReadWomen2019: 9 of 25: JiHyeon Lee is from South Korea

Jillian Tamaki, while of Japanese ethnicity, lives in Toronto Canada.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

9 comments on “[Monday Reading] The Rebellious Nature of Children’s Imagination Captured in 2018 Picturebooks Created by Female Artists of Asian Ethnicity

  1. Sarah Sammis

    Both books look delightful. My weekly update

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great pairing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Door is coming from the library, looks so interesting! I did love They Say Blue, wish there was one for other colors, too! Thanks, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They Say Blue was not one of my favorites last year, and I think you’ve put your finger on why: too wordy at times. The art could really speak for itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ll be looking forward to reading Door when we get a copy locally. It looks very intriguing! And I remember liking They Say Blue. As Linda mentioned, would be interesting to see one for other colors if they go in that direction. Thanks for the shares this week, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jana Eschner

    I really enjoyed They Say Blue. The book would be terrific to share with young readers during the change of seasons and also as a way to inspire young writers to create their own meditations on color and the world around them. Thanks for sharing and have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love Jillian Tamaki’s art and especially love her collaborations with her cousin, Mariko Tamaki. Skim is one of my favourites. Now I am off to see if I can find a copy of Door.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That is some beautiful art!


  9. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Community Service and Social Justice in Tamaki’s “Our Little Kitchen” – Gathering Books

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