Cover Image: The Mystery of the Painted Fan

The Mystery of the Painted Fan

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Member Reviews

Youngest of the Nguyen siblings, Jacob loves hockey, but his helmet keeps pinching his longer hair. When he and his dad go to buy a new helmet, Jacob wants a pink one. They leave without it because of his father's discomfort, and Jacob is frustrated. Later, when Jacob wants to paint his fingernails like his sisters, again there's pushback. 

Jacob's parents are both, however, willing to talk through these incidents, and in the end, Jacob gets his pink helmet, and when there's an opportunity for the girls to participate in a fan dance performance, again there's resistance when Jacob wants to too, but in the end, Jacob's family gets behind the choice. 

Unfortunately, some of Jacob's hockey team mates, classmates and other parent(s) are not as comfortable with Jacob's non-traditional choices, and Jacob is made fun of.  Jacob gets support from Annie and Liz and their parents, but also from their grandmother when Jacob investigates the illustrations on the fan he received from their grandmother. There's even acceptance for Jacob's decision some months later to be called "Jay".

Linda Trinh portrays the sincerity of Jacob's desires and the resulting confusion when others can't see how these choices make Jacob happy. Trinh deals with the questioning of gender roles and identity with honesty and compassion, giving kids who have these questions a place to consider their own feelings.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Annick Press for this ARC in exchange for my review.
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Jacob is a young Vietnamese American boy that plays hockey. He wants a pink helmet, likes getting his nails painted with his sisters and other things purported to be more feminine. His parents and Ông Nội are oddly supportive of this. His Vietnamese family friends and teammates are less supportive in the beginning. One of his older cousins eventually brings up gender identity and the possibility of being non-binary, which I think is important.

Lunar New Year is on January 22 this year. Casual reminder to call it Lunar New Year and not just Chinese New Year, because many more people celebrate the holiday. Send lì xì.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.
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The Mystery of the Painted Fan is an engaging and empowering illustrated chapter book for grade school age readers by Linda Trinh and the third book in the Nguyen Kids series. Due out 25th April 2023 from Annick Press, it's 128 pages and will be available in hardcover and paperback. 

This is such a fun and respectfully written book which will engage, entertain, and inform young readers. Despite the action filled plot (Jacob loves hockey, drawing, and dance but feels bad when his friends laugh at the pink hockey helmet he chose, and why *can't* he like bright colors??), the author manages to delve into deeper and meaningful themes such as integration and isolation, respect for culture, honesty, integrity, dealing constructively with gender identity, gender roles, activism, and family in an age-appropriate manner.

The art by Clayton Nguyen is expressive and colorful and is full of small details which invite readers to take a closer look and really think about the concepts being expressed.

Five stars. Representation is important for *everyone*. Highly recommended for public and school library acquisition, home library use, reading circles and similar. This is a great kids book for -all- kids whatever their ethnicity, background, or gender.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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