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JENNY MEI IS SAD by Tracy Subisak Kirkus Star


by Tracy Subisak ; illustrated by Tracy Subisak

Pub Date: June 15th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-316-53771-1
Publisher: Little, Brown

Jenny Mei may smile and joke around, but her best friend knows that inside, she is sad.

A small, unnamed Black child with two Afro puffs describes best friend Jenny Mei (who presents Asian): a girl who can smile, share, and make people laugh even though she’s sad. But when Jenny Mei has a bad day and acts out in school, the narrator is there for her in all the ways a friend can be: waiting after school while Jenny talks with the teacher, being a good listener, or just being together—with popsicles. After a quiet walk, a game of kick the rock, and a quick exhibition of blue and purple tongues, Jenny Mei begins to cry. But our narrator is there with her, “for fun and not-fun and everything in between.” The multiplicity of emotions and depth of friendship are conveyed by Subisak’s deceptively simple text (averaging one sentence per spread) and whimsical, attentive illustrations. The characters are drawn with black outlines, colorful outfits, and dots for eyes that seem to say it all. And while the reason Jenny Mei is sad is never explicitly stated, subtle clues will give perceptive readers an idea of what’s happening in her life. Focus, however, stays on what is most important: the quiet support of a friend who understands.

Intelligently and sympathetically demonstrates that children have complex emotional lives too.

(Picture book. 4-7)