The Favorite Daughter by Allen Say

The Favorite Daughter coverYuriko is excited to bring a photo of herself to school for a class album project. Among the various photos that her dad has of her, she picks one of her younger self in a red kimono.  But when her new art teacher mispronounces her name, and classmates tease her for not looking Japanese, Yuriko is crushed and decides that she wants to be called Michelle instead.

Yuriko’s father respects “Michelle’s” decision, and takes her out to dinner to discuss things. They end up going for some sushi, and the next day, he takes her to visit “Japan” in Golden Gate Park. Her upset towards her original name begins to resolve when an artist draws an especially beautiful picture of a lily flower for Yuriko, since her name means “child of the lily” in Japanese.

Meanwhile, her new assignment for her art class is to create a rendition of the Golden Gate Bridge. She’s already drawn a picture of the bridge, but she wants to be unique in her work, and is stuck not knowing what to do. Furthermore, when Yuriko and her father get around to driving on the bridge, they find it in some dense fog. While a little flustered with how things have turned out, her dad’s suggestion to use her imagination sparks Yuriko’s creativity. She asks for cotton and a cardboard box, but will not let her father know what she is up to until her project is completed and her name has been written on it.

Say, best known for his picture book Grandfather’s Journey and Tea with Milk, does a marvellous job of depicting struggles that have the potential to run deep, such as self-esteem. Printed with photographs of a real “Yuriko,” it addresses some of the feelings and reactions one might have to being different, and shows the patience and understanding of a father who allows his child to work through her frustrations while being continually supportive.

See book reviews by Kirkus reviews, Publisher’s Weekly and BookDragon.

Take a look at the OPB PBS video on Allen Say, writer and illustrator

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