Review of The Flamingo

The FlamingoThe Flamingo
by Guojing; illus. by the author
Primary    Random House Studio/Random    144 pp.         g
9/22    978-0-593-12731-5    $17.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-12732-2    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-12733-9    $10.99

In this moving, mostly wordless graphic novel, a young girl of Chinese descent visits her grandmother on her own; the bond between the two deepens through their shared joy in storytelling and in observing nature. Central to the story is a flamingo, a wild rescue bird that Lao Lao (the grandmother) had saved and raised years ago when she was little. Guojing’s expressive digital, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations have a timeless, cinematic quality, switching back and forth between the grandmother’s bright, tropical childhood awash in shades of yellow, pink, and blue and the gray-hued present. This contrast becomes even greater when the granddaughter flies home (via a flamingo-pink airplane) to her family’s lonely apartment in an imposing skyscraper-filled metropolis. A fantastical appearance by the titular character toward the end brings this gentle tale of family love—spanning time, distance, and generations—to a satisfying, heartwarming close. With its unfussy art and few words, the story leaves room for viewers’ interpretation; what’s never in question is the love between Lao Lao and her granddaughter.

From the November/December 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is a young adult librarian for the New York Public Library.

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