Following Your Dreams in Nigel and the Moon

Have you ever had dreams about your future, but were too embarrassed to share? Nigel, an African American youngster, wants to be an astronaut. He wants to be a dancer too. Nigel also sees himself as a superhero, but he could not find a book in the library where a person like him is dancing. 

Every night when he looks out the window and spots the bright moon, he tells the moon his dreams. At school Nigel told no one about his dreams. He is afraid the children will laugh at him. But he still looks up at the sky at night and shares his dreams with the moon. Nigel vividly imagines himself being the person who helps others and dances as he flies in the sky.

Antwan Eady wrote a beautiful story about the dreams we all have but are scared to share them. He encourages everyone, In particular children, to dream big and work towards those wonderful visions.

Gracey Zhang painted bold, bright and outstanding artwork of Nigel and his dreams. The colors she chose are striking giving life to Nigel, his parents and the moon. She painted Nigel with deep beautiful browns dreaming about his fantastic life. The deep, bold blues that Zhang uses to paint the sky highlight Nigel as a thinker and a visionary. I especially like the painting of his mother, a postal carrier, who delivers birthday cards and letters bringing love throughout the neighborhood. Zhang painted the mail floating through the air as a river of surprises.

Nigel and the Moon is a wonderful book that people, young and old, will enjoy. The paintings themselves are worth the price of the text. They are stunning.

Gracey Zhang is Chinese Canadian and now lives in New York City.

Affirming Chinese American and All Asian American Children: I Am Golden

I Am Golden celebrates Chinese American and all Asian American children. Chen uses the protagonist, Mei, to represent all youngsters. With beautiful eyes “that point toward the sun, that gives us warmth and joy of a thousand rays when you smile,” the author affirms the physical appearance of Asian American young people. Chen also admires Mei’s hair which is “inky black and smooth as a peaceful night sky.”

Mei is confronted with bullying at school and this makes her feel lonely. However the story tells Mei that she represents the “hopes and dreams” of her grandparents and others who came before her. Though it has been difficult for her ancestors to move to the United States, she has an important role in making sure she believes in herself and keeps her family stories alive

Classmates called her different while saying we are all the same, made Mei feel sad. However Mei has a “secret power.” She has a golden flame inside that arose out of her cultural strength from dragons, phoenixes, and jade rabbits. She is strong and yet beautiful too like a “lotus flower unfurling…in the darkest water.” 

This inner flame in Chinese Americans leads them to success in business, the arts, sports, teaching, writing, and many other chosen fields. Even when people call her names or exclude her, Mei remembers to say to herself, “I am Golden.”

This is a fantastic picture book. Every Asian American child needs to be read this story especially now during this time of so much Anti-Asian hate. Get I Am Golden and share it with those you love.

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