Kid Lit Review of “When the Cousins Came” by Katie Yamasaki

Books for children with diverse characters are rare enough, but books featuring mixed-race Asian characters even more so.

In this picture book for ages 4-7, Lila, who lives in the countryside with her mixed-race parents, is looking forward to a visit from her cousins, who come from an apartment in the city. They have different pastimes and customs than Lila: Rosie and Takeo ride skateboards and eat with chopsticks. They have hairstyles Lila has never seen before. Lila wears braids, rides a bike, uses a fork, and likes camping outside and catching fireflies. Lila feels like the odd person out.

In the end however, Rosie and Takeo surprise her not only with their acceptance, but their admiration and love.

The author is also the illustrator, and uses her bright mixed-media illustrations to expand on the story conveyed by the text. Fun details are added to the pictures for careful readers to find and identify.

Evaluation: This is a good book to teach children about difference and how it can enrich relationships rather than obstruct them.

Published by Holiday House, 2018

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