Review of I am Flippish
By Leslie V. Ryan; illustrated by Adolph Soliz
“Why don’t I look like you?” is a question every parent, especially mixed families, must have encountered (or will encounter) at some point in time. “I am Flippish,” a story set in a very practical context, addresses this for all of us.
The author, Leslie Ryan, sent me a copy of this book. I looked up her website and learned that the story in the book is based on a personal experience, in her case, when her son looked more Asian, like her, than her Irish husband. The title was quirky and I couldn’t wait to read it to my kids. When I finally did, I realized how relevant it was.
Sean’s dad is helping out in class, instead of Mom. Sean’s friends are confused, noticing how different he looks from his dad, and Sean begins to feel awkward. But his parents help him understand. Sean happily embraces his identity of being ‘Flippish’ (oh, you’ll find out in case you haven’t guessed it yet!) and shares this in class. Soon, every kid coins a word for a concocted identity, a blend stemming from ancestral roots.
We have discussed this several times at home as my children are among the few dark-skinned ones in their schools. We‘ve also talked about how I am dark-skinned and my husband is much lighter in shade, even though we were both born and raised in the same country. We digressed and talked about a lot of things. But among them were how the U.S is a country of diversity, about ancestors, genetics and appearances. I think my four-year-old gained much clarity after seeing this very typical incident play out in this book, because he brought me the book the very next day and told me “I really like this book, Amma.”
This book will be a great addition to any classroom. It will make a meaningful read for young children raised in a bicultural family. Making up silly names while learning about heritage and countries along the way, helps open up a sensitive issue with children. The illustrations include pictures of country flags from around the world. The school setting brings in the needed element of familiarity and relevance and the conversational tone succeeds in keeping it simple. Overall, it’s a gentle and important tale for all.
Disclosure: We received a free copy of this book but the choice to write the review was all ours.