Amah Faraway

Bloomsbury. Jan. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781547607211.
PreS-Gr 2–Kylie and her mother travel to Taipei from San Francisco to spend time with her Amah, or grandmother, with whom she video chats frequently but can’t visit because of the distance. At first, the little girl feels nervous and unsure about the excursion, daunted by the language barrier and overwhelmed by new tastes and sights Amah wants to share with her. However, when they visit the hot springs, Kylie finally finds that embracing this comforting activity bonds her with her Amah and allows her to enjoy the rest of the stay. She delights in all of the things she found strange at first, and is sad to leave her grandmother when it’s time to return home. She enthusiastically continues to video chat with her grandmother every Saturday and is no longer scared, but excited for future visits. Subisak’s watercolor, pencil, and ink illustrations lovingly show details from Taiwanese life and culture. Ranging from multiple vignettes per page to full spreads, they possess an almost cinematic storyboard quality while supporting the mirrored narrative symmetry that has the hot spring visit as its midpoint. Taiwanese Mandarin words and conversation are used throughout, clear from context.
VERDICT As is true for Hyewon Yum’s Grandpa Across the Ocean, this is a poignantly emotional and highly relatable story for children whose grandparents or other family members might live far away, but also one that teaches universal lessons about overcoming fears of the unfamiliar.

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