A Gift for Nai Nai

Feiwel & Friends. Dec. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250871596.
K-Gr 2–With admirable touches showcasing the main character’s creative ambition and perseverance, this endearing story highlights the comfort and kindness shared through a special family bond between a child and her grandmother. Lyn Lyn, a young Chinese American girl, wishes to make a particular gift for Nai Nai, her beloved paternal grandma, for her birthday, but struggles to crochet a lucky hat with the same skill as Nai Nai, an expert. With a clever plan in place, Lyn Lyn seeks the unsuspecting Nai Nai’s guidance, delighting in the time with her grandma and learning more about the craft of crocheting. Ung effortlessly portrays the strong relationship as a treasured connection through a bright tone of dialogue, with Nai Nai fulfilling the role as a wise mentor who cheers on the determined Lyn Lyn as she slowly masters new techniques. At times, the third person narration heavily relies on the illustrated cues. While elements appear largely flat and sparsely detailed, the easy-to-read facial expressions and consistent, rounded forms with smooth edges and cheerful colors solidly fill the pages and draw attention to the figures’ actions, as well as the progress of the project. Bold text represents Lyn Lyn’s speech and thoughts, a unique design choice that adds weight to her perspective, though Nai Nai’s words will prove equally important. Simple terms related to crocheting and Mandarin words are woven into the story, with a complex set of instructions to crochet a hat at its end.
VERDICT With its soft illustrative style and clear portrayal of a loving family bond, this sweet story will prove a comforting read aloud for young readers to share with their beloved grandparents or with any adults who are celebrated as role models in their lives.

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