From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3. As he did in Stranger in the Mirror (Houghton, 1995), Say uses a glimpsed reflection to probe the ramifications of recognition. In the earlier title, the subject was aging; here, Say turns to adoption. When readers first encounter Allison, she is opening a package containing a red kimono just like the one worn by her doll. The whole family faces a mirror for her to see herself in her new garment, and she sees that her doll's hair is "straight and dark like hers." When she realizes that she does not look like her mother or father, her smile fades. Questions about the doll's origin lead to the discovery of her adoption. What follows are some lonely scenes as Allison watches the families at daycare and as she destroys her mother's childhood doll and father's baseball and glove. It is finally the "adoption" of a stray cat, whose appearances frame the story, that helps Allison understand and appreciate her family. While Say's watercolors are powerful?the skill with which he captures determination and longing in the muscles surrounding Allison's mouth, for example?and her anger is a believable reaction, the conclusion is abrupt and somewhat contrived. One can't help wondering, too, why Allison don't already know about her past if she is surrounded by cultural reminders and why her parents don't respond to her pain with immediate physical and verbal warmth and comfort. The compelling artwork will surely attract attention.. However, for first choices that combine honesty with reassurance, try Karen Katz's Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale (Holt, 1997) or Fred Rogers's Lets Talk About It: Adoption (Putnam, 1995).?Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg,
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Say's trademark nuanced and limpid watercolors convey and complete the emotional resonance of this adoption story. When Allison's grandmother sends her a kimono and Allison tries it on, she sees that she resembles her doll, Mei Mei, more than she resembles her parents. Allison is terrified and unsatisfied by her parents' explanation (in a conversation that sounds as if the subject has never been broached) that her birth parents couldn't keep her, and that they brought her home (with Mei Mei) from another country. She withdraws from her playmates and her family, and then lashes out by destroying her mother and father's cherished possessions from childhood. A stray cat who has been hanging around their house provides Allison with another--albeit unstated--view of adoption and she cheers up enough to rejoin her family. Say masterfully captures Allison's expressions: She is surprised, wounded, sullen, hurt and hurtful, and finally reassured. He addresses the dark side of an adoptive child's feelings carefully, and while the resolution is a bit convenient (and may require interpretation for younger children), it still carries truth. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.