Yang, Kao Kalia. (Illus. Khoa Le). The Most Beautiful Thing. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., 2020.
If The Most Beautiful Thing ends up in a school’s collection just for the illustrations, it would be a good thing. When the story is shared, it will be even better. This gorgeous book is the story of the author’s family’s immigration to the United States as Hmong refugees. It is not the story of the journey, but the story of learning how to live with very little. It is told in simple, almost poetic language from the author’s point of view as she grows from a small child to a teen. Themes of familial love, enduring hardship and poverty, and tradition make the text and the illustrations that much richer. Students that are living with hardship brought on by COVID may relate to descriptions of doing without.
The Most Beautiful Thing is a must-buy for elementary libraries’ picture book collection, and although the interest level is K-3, it leans more toward the older end of that range. It includes a short pronunciation guide and glossary.
Dewey: 305 Interest Level: Grades 1-4.
Awards and Reviews (as of October 7): Kirkus Reviews starred.
Older Readers Might Like: Kids Like Me: Voices of the Immigrant Experience by Judith M. Blohm (Gr. 5-8)
Young Adult Readers Might Like: Immigration Nation: The American Identity in the Twenty-First Century by Judy Dodge Cummings.
Fiction Paring: Danbi Leads the School Parade by Anna Kim