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From The Asian Reporter, V15, #23 (June 7, 2005), page 16.

Compare and contrast

I Donít Have Your Eyes

By Carrie A. Kitze

Illustrated by Rob Williams

EMK Press, 2003

Hardcover, 28 pages, $16.95

By Josephine Bridges

I wanted to like this book, and I gave it my best. Goodness knows thereís nothing really harmful in it, and all the best intentions. As the author writes in a brief statement directed at parents and caregivers, which precedes the narrative, "For transracial and transcultural adoptees, and for children in foster care or kinship placements, celebrating the differences within their families as well as the similarities that connect them, is the foundation for belonging." True enough, but thereís something just off plumb here.

To begin with, itís not clear who narrates I Donít Have Your Eyes. There are at least ten different pairs of grown-ups and children illustrating the differences and commonalities between the two. "I donít have your eyes Ö but I have your way of looking at things" is accompanied by a picture of a girl of Asian ancestry and a woman with light brown hair and blue eyes. On the other hand, the man and the boy depicted with "I donít have your height Ö but I have your pride which makes me stand tall" could easily be genetically related.

The two-part statements themselves are sometimes effective ó "I donít have your knees Ö but I have learned your way of giving thanks on mine" ó but sometimes affected ó "I donít have your voice Ö but I have your way of lifting spirits with a song." Itís hard to believe that kids would really talk this way.

I Donít Have Your Eyes is also a bit too relentlessly upbeat. Adoption, foster care, and kinship placements all have their bumps and hurdles, and it would be nice to see a range of human feelings portrayed, not just love and gratitude.

And the illustrations are, well, creepy. Several of the grown-upsí eyes are glazed with complacency, and I canít help thinking their bodies are really inhabited by loathsome space aliens who are going to gobble up the children as soon as I turn the page.

The author and the illustrator of I Donít Have Your Eyes are both adoptive parents, so no doubt they have more to show and tell on this topic. I do admire their good intentions and wish them better luck next time.

To buy me, visit these retailers:

Powell's Books