Written by Margaret Chiu Greanias
Illustrated by Tracy Subisak
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books; $18.99, Ages 4-8)
★Starred Reviews – School Library Journal, Shelf Awareness
Since “[v]ideo chats [aren’t] the same as real life,” Kylie is nervous about visiting her Amah who lives so far away in Taipei, despite their weekly time together online. Once they arrive, Amah encourages Kylie to explore the city together, “Lái kàn kàn! Come see!” But Kylie finds everything strange: Amah’s apartment, dining with her extended family, city life, the night market. Everywhere they go, Kylie hesitantly “trail[s] behind Amah and Mama.”
But on the day they visit the hot springs, something changes for Kylie. Dipping her toe in the warm water, she relishes in the joy of that moment and, in the days to follow, all the other experiences Taipei has to offer. From this point on, Greanias cleverly flips the lines of the story, repeating the same lines as the first part, but this time in reverse order with slight changes in context and punctuation to emphasize Kylie’s wholehearted embrace of the culture around her.
Amah’s welcoming refrain has now become Kylie’s. “Lái kàn kàn!” she calls out to Amah and Mama as she leads them to the places Amah has taken her before, only now Kylie sees them with fresh, new eyes. Energetic lines in a soft color palette weave through the book which includes Taiwanese Mandarin text in speech bubbles inviting readers to join in on the fun.
Included in the back matter are the Taipei sights mentioned in the story, meanings behind Taiwanese foods, and a note from both the author and illustrator about their experiences visiting their own grandmothers in Taiwan.
An engaging story set in a vibrant, diverse city, Amah Faraway illustrates how to face your fears by leaning on familial love.
- Reviewed by Armineh Manookian