“When the Cousins Came” Review in The Horn Book Magazine

“Lila is excited to have her city cousins, Rosie and Takeo, visit. She’s happy when they do her hair—Rosie, with her two-puffball hairdo, redoes Lila’s braids into more of a ‘shark fin’ like Takeo’s—and when they play outside (‘We brought our own wheels,’ says skateboard-holding Rosie). When Lila sees her cousins using chopsticks better than she can, and when they hold each other’s hands in the dark, she starts to feel left out. On their last night together, Lila proposes camping. ‘No way…Too scary,’ say Takeo and Rosie, and rain further foils the plan. But Pop suggests camping indoors—the perfect idea! While the text never mentions the ethnicity of the characters, Lila’s ethnic identity appears to be different from that of her cousins, and the story positively depicts how barriers can be erased when kids who may not look alike, or have all the same experiences, spend time together. Yamasaki’s vibrant mixed-media collage illustrations convey this family well; butterflies that appear on the cover and surround the kids frequently may be intended as metaphors for unity or happiness (though they occasionally are visually distracting). In any case, this is a useful mirror book for many readers as well as a quiet story of how people from different backgrounds and cultures can meet halfway and learn from each other.”

– Michelle H. Martin, July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine


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