Owlkids. Apr. 2021. 24p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781771474320.
Gr 1-3–Lam (The Paper Boat) again draws from her experience as a young immigrant from Vietnam, recalling how her new classmates and others mispronounced or even made fun of her name so much that finally she announced to her comically stunned parents that she just wanted to be called “Jennifer.” The conceit lasts until lunchtime, when “Jennifer” discovers that her mom has packed “Gỏi cuổn! Thao’s favorite!” From then on: “My name is Thao. It helps if you take out the h when you say it. But remember to put it back in when you spell it.” For illustrations Lam inserts a family snapshot of herself amid a diverse and expressive crowd of paper collage school children in some scenes, and large hand-lettered words in others suspended, like the pithy narrative, on generous expanses of white space. The premise has been explored elsewhere, most notably in Helen Recorvits’s powerful My Name Is Yoon, and Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed’s My Name Is Sangoel, but the autobiographical element here adds a distinctively personal inflection.
VERDICT A lighthearted assertion of identity, particularly strong on appeal for younger children who have had to adjust to the demands of white American culture.

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