Several weeks ago, I was presented an opportunity to review a book for EMK Press. Since this particular book has been on my "wish list" for some time now, I jumped at the chance to receive it and check it out with Li'l Empress.
When my complimentary copy of I Don't Have Your Eyes arrived in my mailbox, I was DELIGHTED to see it in hardcover. I am a huge fan of beautiful children's books and collect them in hardcover whenever possible. So upon opening the much-anticipated story book, I was already very excited about the prospects this story would hold for us.
And the book did not disappoint.
I read through it first by myself, as Li'l Empress was napping when it arrived. Frankly, because I couldn't wait. I mean, it has been on my "wish list" for a while. Did I mention that?
I found my first read-through to be very touching. The illustrations, first of all, are just beautiful. Realistic, artistic, and very inviting. Each face seems so warm. The "child's eye-level" view of kneeling knees, the big shoes and little shoes, the daddy braiding hair... all of these illustrations complement the text just perfectly. If this book had been picked up by my Li'l Empress before we'd had a chance to read it to her, I've no doubt in my mind that there would have been some great connections made by how the differences between characters were presented visually.
As for the text of the story, I found its simplicity to be the most charming thing about the whole book. Again, on my own reading, I actually felt a little choked up at the tenderness of the observations of the differences between the child and the parent. They were such real things that kids point out to themselves and each other every day. I was quite anxious to read it to Li'l Empress and see where the story pointed her conversations.
At this point, I must add that I am a mom to five kids. My older four bio kids have some strong similarities among them and Li'l Empress is, so far, the only child in our home of a completely different ethnic background. And she has been noticing it a lot lately. Mostly in sweet, funny observations that give us plenty of time to think ahead about the more serious questions that we know will be coming. So, I was thrilled that the appearance of this new book (and truthfully, the pouring rain outside!) prompted Baby BlueEyes to sit with Li'l Empress and I for our first reading of the story. He is, in appearance and in temperament, the most different from Li'l Empress so I was interested to read the story with both of them.
And again, the book did not disappoint.
The three of us giggled and laughed our way through the story, pausing to talk about all the little and big differences the story sparked as Li'l Empress made connections between herself and the characters:
Li'l Empress's little ear and big ear
(Li'l Empress was born with right ear Microtia)
Li'l Empress's shiny black hair and LadyBug's long brown hair
Li'l E's soft dark hands and Momma's scratchy white hands
(yes, I know. I need some Swiss Formula!)
Dr. D's great big huge feet and Li'l E's tiny feet
Li'l E's big black-brown eyes and Baby BlueEye's sky-blue eyes
The book led to some of the sweetest and funniest talks we've had to date, about how we all look very different on the outside. It was precious, really. And very age appropriate for the stage that Li'l Empress is in, at four years old. Baby BlueEyes was making some deeper connections, about adoptions and mixed race families, but they were all on track and really interesting to discuss together.
I think the book does a great job using simple observations kids make about the differences between the people in their lives and catapulting it into points of connection about the really important things of life. Principles like "taking one step at a time" and "lifting spirits with a song" and "giving thanks" all build together to validate the old adage that "It's what's inside that counts," and "in our hearts we are the same."
As a mom of five incredibly unique and very different-from-each-other kids, that message is one that I embrace and can camp upon while parenting them toward the path that the Lord has for their futures.
Thank you, to EMK Press,
for the complimentary copy
of this book and the opportunity to review it.