Review of I Dream of Popo

I Dream of Popo
by Livia Blackburne; illus. by Julia Kuo
Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.    g
1/21    978-1-250-24931-9    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-81995-6    $10.99

The protagonist of this emotion-filled story is a little girl in Taiwan who loves her popo, or grandmother. She dreams with Popo, walks with her in the park, and bows to her on New Year’s Day — until one day the girl and her parents move to San Diego. She can then only dream of Popo, talk with her from across the sea, and pray for her recovery from an illness. Upon returning to Taiwan for a visit, the girl is dismayed that her language skills have slipped (“Now ‘ni hao’ is what feels strange in my mouth”), yet the bond between granddaughter and grandmother remains as strong as ever. Kuo’s digital illustrations, of a rosy-cheeked girl and active grandma, complement Blackburne’s text by showing details that accurately and authentically depict Taiwan and its culture. Iconic buildings (Taipei 101, the Grand Hotel), Chinese New Year traditions, street signs, and cityscapes are only some of the abundant details that invite readers to look closely at the images. In a few spreads, the gutter is cleverly used to delineate the characters’ two very different worlds. Blackburne’s nuanced narrative and Kuo’s eye-catchingly hued illustrations bring readers on a heartwarming journey, providing an opportunity to explore and discuss the themes of identity, roots, connection, and emigration. Appended author and illustrator’s notes and a glossary provide more detail.

From the May/June 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Weileen Wang
You-Ling (Weileen) Wang loves to write, read, and illustrate. She attended Vanderbilt University, where she studied child development and fell in love with children's literature. She holds a master's degree in arts in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.